It looked like doom and gloom. Splashed across the front page of Thurs’ WSJ was the headline "Cable Industry May Need Upgrades." The article, based on a leaked CableLabs report, said cable operators may need another round of multibillion dollar upgrades to offer the type of bandwidth that rival telcos plan to exploit. But there didn’t seem to be much hand-wringing among investors, with cable stocks up across the board at day’s end. Said one cable exec: "It was a big yawn on Wall St. Those of us who follow this all the time know about simulcast, switched digital, MPEG-4 compression." Bank of America’s Doug Shapiro seemed to take a similar stance. "Operators also have a slew of options for increasing the capacity of current networks at relatively low marginal cost," he said. "To us, the bottom line on the article is that it probably isn’t relevant within any reasonable investment time horizon." Cable operators stressed that the CableLabs report was a hypothetical, academic scenario, with the industry free to build out networks over time. Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a research note that to trigger the bandwidth requirement in CableLab’s hypothetical scenario, "there would have to be massive consumer disintermediation of video… The competitive impetus to drive such a capital spending requirement appears to be entirely absent." Time Warner posted the biggest gain of the day, closing up 1.8%. Comcast was up nearly 1.2%, followed by Mediacom (.77%), Charter (.74%) and Cablevision (.31%). Deep Throat: As for the leak, no one is saying how the report got into the hands of anyone besides an MSO exec. CableLabs said it has taken steps to improve security, including more limited distribution of such reports. In a 399-word statement, the organization said the report shows that cable requires no major investment to compete with FTTP networks. "While it is nearly impossible to predict the future demand for more capacity to cable’s already robust fiber optic network, our research also shows that cable’s infrastructure can easily and cost effectively be upgraded as additional capacity is needed in the long-term," CableLabs said.

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