SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) continued to ride the broadband wave in Q4

SureWest (Nasdaq: SURW) has made a big bet on being a broadband focused company, and that bet continued to pay off during the fourth quarter as broadband revenues were up 17 percent year-over-year.

Steve Oldham, SureWest's President and CEO, said that residential broadband growth was driven by the "continued success of our super high-speed data packages and increased take rates for our advanced digital TV and broadband voice-over-IP products."

The ongoing growth in SureWest's overall consolidated revenues were up 2 percent to $61.6 billion in the fourth quarter as broadband revenues grew by $3.5 million to offset an 11 percent decline in telecom revenue, which came in at $2.18 million.

Here's a breakdown of key metrics:

  • Landline Losses: SureWest expects traditional telecom revenues to flatten over the next two years, a factor it attributes to phasing out of telecom support mechanisms and slowing of access line losses. As seen with other traditional ILECs, Q4 consolidated voice RGU loss was RGU loss was 4,800, down from the 6,400 it reported in Q4 2009.
  • Business Services: With much of the impact of California's real estate market stabilizing, SureWest's Sacramento business customer base declined 7 percent to 7,900 due to small companies going out of business for economic reasons, which is reflected in the 8 percent increase in ARPU from the prior year to $359 million as the company retained existing customers with higher ARPU.
  • Broadband Service: During the quarter, SureWest's broadband revenues were up 8 percent year-over-year and accounted for 73 percent of the ILEC's total revenues, versus 69 percent in Q4 2009. Going forward, SureWest expects to continue increasing its broadband revenues and Adjusted EBITDA through expansion of both residential and business product offerings.
  • Video services: Video also continues to be a growth engine for SureWest. Buoyed by its Advanced Digital TV product, SureWest's added 2,900 net video RGUs year-over-year and 600 sequentially. About 98 percent of its Advanced Digital TV subscribers bundle Internet and 85 percent subscribe to a triple-play bundle.

Looking towards 2011, SureWest is betting its money on fiber-based wireless backhaul. As has been the case in previous quarters, SureWest will continue to leverage its ongoing fiber network build out to target new wireless backhaul opportunities. To date, it has signed contracts to serve over 350 wireless backhaul contracts in sites in both Sacramento and Kansas City and it said it has plans to "serve several hundred additional sites in each region."

For more:
- see the release
- here's FierceTelecom's Q4 earnings summary

Related articles:
SureWest profits from ongoing move to broadband
Steve Oldham, President and CEO, SureWest - rising independent ILEC stars
SureWest broadband investment, workforce reduction pay off in Q3

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