Euro cable revenue grows a bundle

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BRUSSELS -- Similar to U.S. cable industry trends, telephone and Internet services are driving the European Union's cable sector, which reached revenue of €18.8 billion ($26.5 billion) last year, according to figures from Cable Europe.

The group, which represents Europe's cable companies, said the sector reached the homes of 70 million customers in 2006.

European cable revenue for the year doubled compared with the €9.4 billion ($13.3 billion) in 2000, according to the group's latest report. It also said that Internet cable connections had risen tenfold since 2000.

Telephone revenue for cable firms almost tripled, from €1 billion ($1.4 billion) to €2.9 billion ($4.1 billion), over that time frame, while traditional cable TV revenue in Europe rose from €8.2 billion ($11.6 billion) in 2000 to €12.4 billion ($17.5 billion) in 2006.

Revenue growth for digital TV, high-speed Internet and telephony services outpaced the industry's overall revenue gains, according to the figures.

Digital TV enjoyed a 52% surge in 2006 to reach 11 million customers -- the number of digital TV subscribers has doubled in the past two years alone -- though cable also counted on 52 million analog customers in 2006. The biggest digital TV markets in Europe were the U.K. (3.1 million), Germany (1.4 million) and France (1.25 million), according to Cable Europe.

In terms of broadband Internet users, the EU cable market grew 26% last year to reach 13.5 million customers.

With cable increasingly providing telephony services, the market saw a 21.6% surge in that space in 2006 to 10 million phone customers. Cable Europe predicts even stronger growth this year.
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