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Form 10-K Cable One, Inc. For: Dec 31

February 23, 2024 6:09 AM EST
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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
x
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023
or
o
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____
Commission File Number:001-36863
__________________________
Cable one cover.jpg
Cable One, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
__________________________
Delaware13-3060083
(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
210 E. Earll Drive, Phoenix, Arizona
85012
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)(Zip Code)
(602) 364-6000
(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each ClassTrading Symbol(s)
Name of Each Exchange on Which
Registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01CABO
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes þ No o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes þ No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes þ No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
þAccelerated filero
Non-accelerated fileroSmaller reporting companyo
Emerging growth companyo
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. þ
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. o
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o No þ
The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates as of June 30, 2023 was approximately $3.7 billion, based on the closing price for the registrant’s common stock on June 30, 2023. For purposes of this computation only, all executive officers, directors and 10% beneficial owners of the registrant as of June 30, 2023 are deemed to be affiliates of the registrant. Such determination should not be deemed to be an admission that such executive officers, directors, or 10% beneficial owners are, in fact, affiliates of the registrant.
There were 5,619,109 shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding as of February 16, 2024.
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to its 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A within 120 days after the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Item 1C.Cybersecurity
1

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This document contains “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about our industry, business, strategy, acquisitions and strategic investments, dividend policy, financial results and financial condition. Forward-looking statements often include words such as “will,” “should,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “projects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes” and words and terms of similar substance in connection with discussions of future operating or financial performance. As with any projection or forecast, forward-looking statements are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Our actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied in our forward-looking statements. Accordingly, undue reliance should not be placed on any forward-looking statement made by us or on our behalf. Important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those in our forward-looking statements include government regulation, economic, strategic, political and social conditions and the following factors:
rising levels of competition from historical and new entrants in our markets;
recent and future changes in technology, and our ability to develop, deploy and operate new technologies, service offerings and customer service platforms;
our ability to continue to grow our residential data and business services revenues and customer base;
increases in programming costs and retransmission fees;
our ability to obtain hardware, software and operational support from vendors;
risks that we may fail to realize the benefits anticipated as a result of our purchase of the remaining interests in Hargray Acquisition Holdings, LLC (“Hargray”) that we did not already own (the “Hargray Acquisition”);
risks relating to existing or future acquisitions and strategic investments by us;
risks that the implementation of our new enterprise resource planning (“ERP”) and billing systems disrupt business operations;
the integrity and security of our network and information systems;
the impact of possible security breaches and other disruptions, including cyber-attacks;
our failure to obtain necessary intellectual and proprietary rights to operate our business and the risk of intellectual property claims and litigation against us;
legislative or regulatory efforts to impose network neutrality (“net neutrality”) and other new requirements on our data services;
additional regulation of our video and voice services;
our ability to renew cable system franchises;
increases in pole attachment costs;
changes in local governmental franchising authority and broadcast carriage regulations;
changes in government subsidy programs;
the potential adverse effect of our level of indebtedness on our business, financial condition or results of operations and cash flows;
the restrictions the terms of our indebtedness place on our business and corporate actions;
the possibility that interest rates will continue to rise, causing our obligations to service our variable rate indebtedness to increase significantly;
risks associated with our convertible indebtedness;
our ability to continue to pay dividends;
provisions in our charter, by-laws and Delaware law that could discourage takeovers and limit the judicial forum for certain disputes;
adverse economic conditions, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, changes in rates of inflation and the level of move activity in the housing sector;
pandemics, epidemics or disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have, and may in the future, disrupt our business and operations, which could materially affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows;
lower demand for our residential data and business services products;
fluctuations in our stock price;
dilution from equity awards, convertible indebtedness and potential future convertible debt and stock issuances;
damage to our reputation or brand image;
our ability to retain key employees (whom we refer to as associates);
our ability to incur future indebtedness;
provisions in our charter that could limit the liabilities for directors; and
the other risks and uncertainties detailed in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC")
Any forward-looking statements made by us in this document speak only as of the date on which they are made. We are under no obligation, and expressly disclaim any obligation, except as required by law, to update or alter our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, subsequent events or otherwise.
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PART I
ITEM 1    BUSINESS
Overview
Cable One, Inc. (“Cable One,” “us,” “our,” “we” or the “Company”) is a leading broadband communications provider committed to connecting customers and communities to what matters most. We strive to deliver an effortless experience by offering solutions that make our customers’ lives easier, and by relating to them personally as our neighbors and local business partners. Powered by our fiber-rich infrastructure, the Cable One family of brands provides residential customers with a wide array of connectivity and entertainment services, including Gigabit speeds, advanced Wi-Fi and video. For businesses ranging from small and mid-market up to enterprise, wholesale and carrier, we offer scalable, cost-effective solutions that enable businesses of all sizes to grow, compete and succeed. We believe the services we provide are critical to the development of new businesses and drive economic growth in the non-metropolitan, secondary and tertiary markets that we serve in 24 Western, Midwestern and Southern states. As of December 31, 2023, approximately 74% of our customers were located in seven states: Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. We provided services to approximately 1.1 million residential and business customers out of approximately 2.8 million homes passed as of December 31, 2023. Of these customers, approximately 1,059,000 subscribed to data services, 142,000 subscribed to video services and 119,000 subscribed to voice services as of December 31, 2023.
The following map shows the locations of our consolidated markets as of December 31, 2023:
Market Map.jpg
We generate substantially all of our revenues through three primary product lines. Ranked by share of our total revenues during 2023, they are residential data (58.4%), business services (data, voice and video provided to businesses: 18.1%) and residential video (15.4%). The profit margins, growth rates and/or capital intensity of these three primary product lines vary significantly due to competition, product maturity and relative costs.
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In 2023, our adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”) margins for residential data and business services were approximately four and five times greater, respectively, than for residential video. We define Adjusted EBITDA margin for a product line as Adjusted EBITDA attributable to that product line divided by revenue attributable to that product line (see the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Use of Adjusted EBITDA” for the definition of Adjusted EBITDA and a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income, which is the most directly comparable measure under generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”)). This margin disparity is largely the result of significant programming costs and retransmission fees incurred to deliver residential video services, which in each of the last three years represented between 63% and 65% of total residential video revenues. Neither of our other primary product lines has direct costs representing as substantial a portion of revenues as programming costs and retransmission fees represent for residential video, and indirect costs are generally allocated on a per primary service unit (“PSU”) basis.
We focus on growing our higher margin businesses, namely residential data and business services. Our strategy acknowledges the industry-wide trends of declining profitability of residential video services and declining revenues from residential voice services. The declining profitability of residential video services is due primarily to increasing programming costs and retransmission fees and competition from other streaming content providers, and the declining revenues from residential voice services are due primarily to the increasing use of wireless voice services instead of residential voice services. Separately, we have also historically focused on retaining customers who are likely to produce higher relative value over the life of their service relationships with us, are less attracted by discounting, require less support and churn less. This strategy has focused on increasing Adjusted EBITDA, driving higher margins and delivering attractive levels of Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures over the long-term. The following chart shows the relative size of our product lines (as a percentage of total revenue) in 2023 as compared to 2015, the year we became an independent public company following the completion of our spin-off from Graham Holdings Company ("GHC"):
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Excluding the effects of recently completed and any potential future acquisitions and divestitures, the trends described above have impacted, and are expected to further impact, our three primary product lines in the following ways:
Residential data. We have experienced significant growth in residential data customers and revenues since 2013 and we expect growth for this product line to continue over the long-term. We believe upgrades made in our broadband capacity, our ability to offer higher access speeds than many of our competitors, the reliability and flexibility of our data service offerings, our Wi-Fi support service and continuously growing data usage by consumers and their demand for higher speeds will enable us to continue to grow average monthly revenue per unit ("ARPU") from our existing customers over the long-term and capture additional market share. Our broadband plant generally consists of a fiber-to-the-premises or hybrid fiber-coaxial ("HFC") network with ample unused capacity, and we offer our data customers internet products at some of the fastest speeds available in our markets. During the fourth quarter of 2023, our average residential data customer used 705 Gigabytes of data per month, with nearly 25% of our customers using over 1 Terabyte of data per month. We believe that the capacity and reliability of our networks exceeds that of our competitors in most of our markets and best positions us to meet the continuously increasing consumption demands of customers. We experienced elevated growth in residential data revenues during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have seen more subdued growth in recent quarters due in part to macroeconomic headwinds and continued competition in certain areas of our footprint.
Business services. We have experienced significant growth in business data customers and revenues since 2013. We attribute this growth to our strategic focus on increasing sales to business customers and our efforts to attract enterprise business customers. We expect to experience continued growth in business data customers and revenues over the long-term. Margins for products sold to business customers have remained attractive, which we expect will continue.
Residential video. Residential video service is an increasingly fragmented business, with programming costs and retransmission fees continuing to escalate in the face of a proliferation of streaming content alternatives. We intend to continue our strategy of focusing on the higher-margin businesses of residential data and business services while de-emphasizing our residential video business. As a result of our video strategy, we expect that residential video customers and revenues will continue to decline. We now offer Sparklight® TV, an internet protocol-based (“IPTV”) video service that allows customers with our Sparklight TV app to stream our video channels from the cloud. This transition from linear to IPTV video service enables us to reclaim bandwidth, freeing up network capacity to increase data speeds and capacity across our network.
We continue to experience increased competition, particularly from telephone companies; fiber, municipal and cooperative overbuilders; fixed wireless access ("FWA") data providers; and over-the-top (“OTT”) video providers. Because of the levels of competition we face, we believe it is important to make investments in our infrastructure. In addition, a key objective of our capital allocation process is to invest in initiatives designed to drive revenue and Adjusted EBITDA expansion. Approximately 69% of our total capital expenditures since 2017 focused on infrastructure improvements intended to grow these measures. We continue to invest capital to, among other things, increase fiber density and coverage, expand our footprint, increase plant and data capacity, enhance network reliability and improve the customer experience. We have rolled out multi-Gigabit download data service to certain markets and currently offer Gigabit download data service to nearly all of our homes passed. We have also deployed DOCSIS 3.1, which, together with Sparklight TV, further increases our network capacity and enables future growth in our residential data and business services product lines.
We expect to continue to devote financial resources to infrastructure improvements in existing and newly acquired markets as well as to expand high-speed data service in areas adjacent to our existing network. We believe these investments are necessary to continually meet our customers’ needs and remain competitive. The capital enhancements associated with acquisitions include rebuilding low-capacity markets; reclaiming bandwidth from analog video services; implementing 32-channel bonding; deploying DOCSIS 4.0; consolidating back-office functions such as billing, accounting and service provisioning; migrating products to Cable One's platforms; and expanding our high-capacity fiber network.
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Our primary goals are to continue growing residential data and business services revenues, to increase profit margins and to deliver strong Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures over the long-term. To achieve these goals, we intend to continue our disciplined cost management approach, remain focused on customers with expected higher relative value, supplement our growth by targeting a broader scope of incremental customers, including those who are more value-conscious, combat competitive threats in our markets through more targeted pricing and product offerings and follow through with further planned investments in broadband plant upgrades, including the deployment of DOCSIS 4.0 capabilities and new data service offerings for residential and business customers. We also plan to seek broadband-related acquisition and strategic investment opportunities in rural markets in addition to the pursuit of organic growth through market expansion projects. Given our strategic focus on our higher margin residential data and business services product lines, we assess our level of capital expenditures relative to Adjusted EBITDA, unlike others in our industry who may compare their capital expenditures to revenues due to their much larger residential video customer bases.
Our business is subject to extensive governmental regulation, which substantially impacts our operational and administrative expenses. Thus, we could be significantly impacted by changes to the existing regulatory framework, whether triggered by legislative, administrative or judicial rulings. The Federal Communications Commission (the "FCC") currently is considering several initiatives, including proposed rules regarding net neutrality that could lead to increased regulation of our data and video services (see the section entitled “Regulation and Legislation”). Numerous states, including Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri (where we have subscribers), also have proposed administrative actions and/or legislation in the past or currently are considering such actions, which could lead to increased regulation of our provision of data services. Several states, including Oregon and Washington (where we also have subscribers), have adopted legislation that requires entities providing broadband internet access service in the state to comply with net neutrality requirements or that prohibits state and local government agencies from contracting with internet service providers that engage in certain network management activities based on paid prioritization, content blocking or other discrimination. We cannot predict whether or when any future changes to the regulatory framework will occur at the federal or state level or whether or to what extent those changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
We serve our customers through a plant and network with capacity generally measuring 750 megahertz or higher and have DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities throughout our systems. Our technologically advanced fiber-based infrastructure provides for delivery of a full suite of data, video and voice products. Our broadband plant generally consists of a fiber-to-the-premises or HFC network with ample unused capacity, and nearly all of our homes passed have access to Gigabit download speeds, including certain markets that have access to multi-Gigabit download speeds, which we believe meaningfully distinguishes our offerings from certain competitors in our markets. As a result of multi-year investments in our plant and network, we increased broadband capacity and reliability, which has enabled and will continue to enable us to offer even higher download speeds to our customers. In addition, we began the deployment of symmetrical Gigabit speeds over our data network in select markets during 2023 and plan to begin deploying DOCSIS 4.0 by the end of 2024. These upgrades will allow us to further increase plant capacity in support of ongoing increases in consumer demand. We believe these investments will reinforce our competitive strength in this area.
Corporate History
In 1986, The Washington Post Company (the prior name of our former corporate parent, GHC) acquired 53 cable television systems with approximately 350,000 video subscribers in 15 Western, Midwestern and Southern states. We completed over 30 acquisitions and dispositions of cable systems through 2015, both through cash sales and system trades. In the process, we substantially reshaped our original geographic footprint and resized our typical system, including exiting a number of metropolitan markets and acquiring cable systems in non-metropolitan markets that fit our business model. On July 1, 2015, we became an independent company traded under the ticker symbol “CABO” on the New York Stock Exchange after completion of our spin-off from GHC.
In addition to our organic growth, we have also completed a number of acquisitions in recent years. In 2017, we acquired RBI Holding LLC (“NewWave”) for $740.2 million. In 2019, we acquired Delta Communications, L.L.C. (“Clearwave”) for $358.8 million and Fidelity Communications Co. (“Fidelity”) for $531.4 million. In 2020, we acquired Valu-Net LLC (“Valu-Net”) for $38.9 million. In 2020, we contributed the assets of our Anniston, Alabama system (the “Anniston System”) to Hargray in exchange for an approximately 15% equity interest in Hargray and subsequently acquired the remaining approximately 85% equity interest in 2021 for approximately $2.0 billion. We also acquired certain assets and assumed certain liabilities from Cable America Missouri, LLC (“CableAmerica”) for $113.1 million in late 2021.
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In 2020, we completed the rebranding of our legacy Cable One consumer-facing business to Sparklight. The Sparklight brand better conveys who we are and what we stand for – a company committed to providing our communities with connectivity that enriches their world. As part of the rebranding and subsequent packaging rollouts, we began streamlining our residential internet service plans and pricing and offering faster speeds and unlimited data options on any plan. In addition, we have strengthened and plan to continue to strengthen our commitment to the communities we serve through educational programs, corporate giving and donations of time and resources.
In recent years, we have made investments in several broadband-centric providers serving non-urban markets that follow various strategies similar to our own. Such strategic investments capitalize on opportunities that may not have existed under a full ownership model, allow us to participate more aggressively in the fiber expansion business and may potentially provide future acquisition or investment opportunities, while allowing our management team to focus on our core business and without burdening our cash flow. In 2020, we invested a combined $634.9 million in CTI Towers, Inc. (“CTI”), AMG Technology Investment Group, LLC (“Nextlink”), Wisper ISP, LLC (“Wisper”) and Mega Broadband Investments Holdings LLC (“MBI”) and contributed the assets of the Anniston System to Hargray in exchange for an approximately 15% equity interest. In 2021, we invested a combined $95.8 million in Point Broadband Holdings, LLC (“Point Broadband”), Tristar Acquisition I Corp (“Tristar”) and Nextlink. In 2022, we contributed certain fiber operations to a newly formed entity, Clearwave Fiber LLC ("Clearwave Fiber") (the "Clearwave Fiber Contribution") in exchange for an approximately 58% equity interest in Clearwave Fiber valued at $440.0 million as of the closing date and invested a combined $41.8 million (including $7.0 million of the fair value of our Tallahassee, Florida system) in Point Broadband, MetroNet Systems, LLC ("MetroNet"), Visionary Communications, Inc. ("Visionary") and Northwest Fiber Holdco, LLC ("Ziply"). In 2023, our strategic investment and divestiture activities consisted of the following:
We invested an additional $1.6 million in Visionary.
We invested an additional $27.8 million in Ziply.
In July 2023, we redeemed our equity investment in Wisper for total cash proceeds of $35.9 million, which resulted in the recognition of a $1.8 million gain.
In July 2023, we divested our equity investment in Tristar for total cash proceeds of $20.9 million, which resulted in the recognition of a $3.4 million loss.
Industry Overview
We are a fully integrated provider of data, video and voice services to residential and business customers across various geographic regions in the United States, with a primary focus on residential data and business services. We provide services that are similar to those provided by cable companies, telephone companies and fiber providers, among others. These providers, each to a varying degree, own and/or lease a network that allows them to deliver their services and distribute their signals to the homes and businesses of subscribers. In addition to building their own network backbone and/or leasing physical access to the network backbone, companies providing video services also purchase licenses to provide their subscribers with access to television channels owned by programmers and broadcasters via distribution over the network backbone. Companies providing video services also typically sell advertising on their video channels.
These providers generate revenue by charging subscription fees to their residential and business customers at rates that vary according to the data, video and/or voice services for which customers subscribe and the type of internet access and equipment furnished to them. These companies generally market and sell their services in bundles or packages in order to maximize the number of PSUs per household, as they believe it is desirable to sell multiple products jointly so that the fixed costs per customer can be spread over multiple PSUs. These providers generally operate in their chosen geographic markets under either non-exclusive franchises or other telecommunications licenses granted by state or local authorities for specified periods of time.
We have a record of consistent, long-term financial and operational success driven by our differentiated operating philosophy and culture. We emphasize focus as opposed to scale, which is a departure from the historical, more conventional strategies employed in our industry, but is well suited to the markets in which we operate and enables us to take advantage of our strengths.
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Our Strengths
We leverage a variety of strengths as a service provider, stemming from, among other things, historical and ongoing capital investments in our plant and our focus on serving customers in non-metropolitan markets. These strengths include the following:
Attractive markets and regional diversification. Our customers are located primarily in non-metropolitan, secondary and tertiary markets with favorable competitive dynamics in comparison to major urban centers. In particular:
We tend to face less vigorous competition than similar service providers in metropolitan markets at this time. In approximately half of our footprint, we do not have a wired competitor that offers residential broadband download speeds of 100 Megabits per second ("Mbps") or higher, which is only a third of the speed of our flagship 300 Mbps residential high-speed data offering.
Advances in technology often come later to our markets — for example, fewer competitors in our markets offer fiber-to-the-premises service than in more densely populated markets.
We are regionally diversified, reducing the impact that an economic downturn, a natural disaster or a new competitor in a specific geographic area would have on our overall business.
Deep customer understanding. We have operated as a non-metropolitan service provider for over 25 years and we are attuned to the unique needs of customers in these areas. In order to understand our customers’ demands and preferences, we routinely conduct customer research through a variety of methods, including customer satisfaction surveys, geo-demographic segmentation studies and other analytics. Together with the direct customer contact we engage in through our virtual call centers and local operating offices, we have gained valuable insight into how to serve customers in our markets, including with respect to providing an optimal mix of data speeds, price points and best-in-class customer service levels. In addition, a significant majority of our associates reside and work in our markets, providing local services through education programs and donations of time and resources that enhance our commitment to the communities we serve.
Robust broadband technology with ample unused capacity. We offer our residential and business data customers internet products at some of the fastest speeds available in our markets. Our broadband plant generally consists of a fiber-to-the-premises or HFC network with ample unused capacity. During the fourth quarter of 2023, our average residential data customer used 705 Gigabytes of data per month, with nearly 25% of our residential data customers using over 1 Terabyte of data per month. We are also committed to ensuring the reliability of our services not only to each customer's premises, but to each of the individual devices connected to our network.
Our flagship broadband offering for residential customers is a download speed of 300 Mbps, although a growing majority of our customers now subscribe to even higher speed offerings. Our fastest broadband offering for most of our residential customers is currently a download speed of up to 1 Gigabit per second (“Gbps”), although certain of our markets now have access to download speeds of up to 2 Gbps, with further multi-Gigabit rollouts planned in the future. We also offer an advanced Wi-Fi solution to residential customers across substantially all of our footprint that provides customers with enhanced Wi-Fi signal strength, which extends and improves the Wi-Fi signal throughout the home. This service is offered free of charge to residential customers who rent one or more modems from us. We have rolled out a Wi-Fi 6E mesh system offering, one of the most advanced Wi-Fi systems available in the market today. On the business side, we offer our small- and medium-sized business customers up to 6 Gbps symmetrical speeds over fiber in select markets and our enterprise customers 10 Gbps symmetrical speeds over fiber.
Network reliability is critical to our success and is a major tenet of our day-to-day operating philosophy. Our investment in and focus on future demand planning is intended to ensure that network performance is never a barrier to customer satisfaction. We have continually made ongoing investments in our legacy and acquired systems, increasing our broadband capacity and reliability. We have invested nearly $1.2 billion over the last three years to bring fast, reliable high-speed data service to our markets. We expect to continue to invest in strategic capital projects, including those associated with newly acquired operations and market expansions, because we believe the competitive benefits will be significant, particularly for data services. We also made the following capital investments in 2023:
We continued to decrease the average number of data customers per unique service group by aggressively splitting service areas (fiber nodes), which substantially improves data throughput during periods of peak usage, minimizing disruptions in data access speeds to our customers.
We continued to invest in plant upgrade projects, which have enhanced reliability and allowed us to stay ahead of the consumption curve related to broadband capacity and utilization, and plant extension projects, which have expanded the number of serviceable homes and businesses.
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We continued to deploy 10 Gbps-capable fiber-to-the-premises technology for both residential and business customers across multiple markets, placing fiber deeper into the network and closer to customers.
We anticipate that the projects we have invested in over the last several years will facilitate sustained increases in residential data and business services revenues and customer satisfaction.
Low cost structure and competitive pricing. We believe our operating costs, taken as a whole, are as low as or lower than any major service provider. We attribute our low-cost structure to a committed focus on retaining our higher value customers and our focus on our higher margin product lines over our video product, which requires increasingly costly programming fees. In addition, because we operate our residential and business data services with a competitive plant and cost structure, we are able to offer our customers both attractive pricing and compelling products.
Integration acumen. We believe a variety of acquisition targets continue to provide attractive accretive opportunities. We also continue to learn and adopt best practices and solutions from our acquired operations. Whether it’s our company-wide incentive program we implemented from NewWave, the innovative video chat solution from Fidelity that proved essential to connecting and servicing customers during the pandemic, the adoption of Hargray’s human resources platform or the talented associates who have joined our company across all of our acquisitions, the valuable experience and tangible and intangible gains from these acquisitions has sharpened our expertise in applying our best in class operating model, leading to meaningful synergy realizations and margin expansion beginning shortly after the completion of each acquisition.
Continuous process improvement mindset. From transactional improvements to large scale innovations, continuous process improvement permeates all that we do to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace and remain a cost-efficient operator. Through the use of an industrial engineering framework and agile mindset, we are able to quickly and effectively react to developments in our markets and implement new initiatives to maximize our operating performance. For example, we recently launched our automated field maintenance program and our automated truck roll recommendation engine which provide efficiencies to enable our associates to better serve our customers. The automated field maintenance program monitors our plant and creates work orders prior to a customer experiencing an issue. This further improves the reliability of our service while driving efficient routing for our internal workforce, allowing them to shift from reactive to proactive maintenance of our network. Our automated truck roll recommendation engine is a machine learning system that analyzes cable modem signals to determine if a customer’s device is not performing optimally and cannot be fixed via remote troubleshooting. This new system enables our associates and customers to bypass time-consuming steps in the process and move directly to an onsite technician.
Customer satisfaction. We have a customer-focused approach, influencing how we organize, how we sell our services and how we service our customers. A significant majority of our associates live and work in the communities that we serve and are neighbors to our customers. We believe that our dedication to providing a differentiated customer experience is an important driver of our overall value proposition and creates loyalty, improves customer retention and drives increased demand for our services. We focus on customer satisfaction, with an emphasis on consistently benchmarking our customer satisfaction over time and relative to our competitors based on internally and externally generated customer satisfaction data. We continue to focus on making the lives of our customers easier by providing value-added services, such as expanding customer self-service options through improved residential and business online portals and creating a more personalized experience in updated and refreshed local offices. In addition, we provide 24/7 network monitoring and support to ensure our customers experience the highest quality and most reliable service possible.
Associate satisfaction. Associates are the heart of Cable One. Our operating success is driven by engaged and committed associates. We believe our customers’ satisfaction is tightly linked to our associates’ satisfaction, which has been consistently high throughout the past decade. We currently measure our associate satisfaction annually along with conducting multiple periodic associate surveys. In 2023, for the third year in a row, we were named to Forbes' America's Best Midsize Employers list.
Experienced management team. Our senior management team is comprised of executives who have significant experience in our industry. Our executive officers have an average industry tenure of nearly 23 years and an average tenure at Cable One (or its predecessors) of over 10 years, and we believe this team is deeply knowledgeable about cost and competitive conditions in our markets. They also understand and are deeply committed to our strategy, which we developed, enhanced and updated on a collaborative basis over many years.
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Our Strategy
Our purpose is to connect our customers and communities to what matters most by doing right by those we serve, driving progress and lending a hand. We accomplish this through a multi-faceted strategy that builds upon our long track record of focusing on the right markets, the right products and the right customers, as well as controlling our operating and capital costs. More specifically, our strategy includes the following principal components:
Focus on non-metropolitan markets. We believe our decision over two decades ago to concentrate on non-metropolitan markets has served us well, and we intend to continue to focus on offering our products primarily in these markets. The economics of non-metropolitan markets, for which we have optimized our strategy and our operations, are different from operations in major cities and have yielded positive operating results for our business. The dynamics of non-metropolitan markets, which tend to have less vigorous competition than more densely populated metropolitan markets, enable us to operate at attractive margins and earn substantial returns, while remaining consistent with our focus on meeting customer demand for attractive product offerings at great value.
Prioritize higher growth, higher margin opportunities. We concentrate on opportunities that maximize Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures and provide the best path for profitable growth. We believe residential video and residential voice face long-term declines. With respect to our video product, programmers and broadcasters are charging higher rates and retransmission fees for content to distributors providing video services (often for content for which viewership is declining), and distributors have had to choose between absorbing those increases to the detriment of their margins or passing on the full cost to customers, which adversely affects customer demand. At the same time, the rapid expansion of OTT offerings has given customers new alternatives to traditional video offerings. In addition, customer demand for wireless voice services has reduced demand for residential voice services for us and others in our industry. As a result, we have reduced our focus on these two products and prioritized higher growth, higher margin opportunities in residential data and business services.
We have declined to cross-subsidize our video business with cash flow from our higher growth, higher margin products, which has resulted in our residential video customers declining at a faster rate than the industry average. Our residential video PSUs decreased by 21.6% when comparing 2023 versus 2022 and 34.7% when comparing 2022 versus 2021. While this strategy runs contrary to the historical, conventional wisdom in our industry, which put heavy emphasis on video customer counts and maximizing the number of PSUs per customer by bundling and discounting services, we believe it best positions us for long-term success. For us, success in growing and retaining residential data and business customers is far more important than maximizing the number of customers who choose triple-play packages combining data, video and voice services.
Drive growth in residential data and business services. We believe our residential data and business services products provide attractive future growth opportunities. Our disciplined prioritization of residential data and business services is generally reflected in all aspects of our business strategy, including pricing, the allocation of sales, marketing and customer service resources, capital spending and supplier negotiations. During 2023, we continued to diversify our revenue streams away from video as residential data and business services represented 76.5% of our total revenues versus 72.7% for 2022 and 71.3% for 2021. We believe we have demonstrated that it is possible to decouple unit growth in our residential data and residential video businesses, which historically were marketed as a package. We focus on selling data-only packages to new customers rather than cross-selling video services to these customers, and a majority of our residential customers are data-only.
Our business services revenues decreased $0.8 million, or 0.2%, in 2023 compared to 2022. While our business services revenues for 2023 was largely flat when compared to 2022, we expect to grow business services over the long term by leveraging and investing in our existing infrastructure capabilities and footprint to offer higher broadband speeds, more choice and greater value than other providers in our markets and to expand our business services to attract more small, medium-sized and enterprise business customers.
Continue our culture of cost leadership. We believe our total combined operating and capital costs per customer over the past decade have been among the lowest of any publicly traded internet service provider and that our operating margins compare very favorably with those of larger companies in our industry. This is the antithesis of normal economies-of-scale expectations, where higher volumes are expected to create lower costs per customer and increase operating margins. Rather than increasing our size and seeking cost savings through economies-of-scale, we have achieved our lower cost structure over many years by focusing on:
serving primarily non-metropolitan, secondary and tertiary markets, which contain different customer dynamics from those in metropolitan markets and would require us to implement additional operational components;
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the adoption of new technologies only after they have been tested by other companies, rather than incurring the level of capital expenditures and risk necessary to be an early adopter of most new technologies;
implementing a virtually centralized call center to receive inbound customer service calls and dispatch technicians across all of our markets, while keeping the majority of our call center associates in our non-metropolitan markets;
standardizing our programming offerings across most of our markets, which reduces our customer service costs, in contrast to other service providers that offer different programming packages in different markets;
aligning our resources to emphasize increased sales of residential data services and sales to business customers and continuing our disciplined cost management approach, rather than committing resources equally to sales of all of our products;
investing in self-service channels to improve customer satisfaction by allowing us to meet changing customer expectations for around-the-clock service while also avoiding unnecessary wait times;
implementation of digital transformation initiatives that include automation and customer self-service within our processes, which enables us to better allocate resources to more value-added activities and enables our customers and associates to thrive in an increasingly digital world; and
engineering process improvements throughout the organization, such as process mapping and standardization; demand and resource planning, including with third party vendors; process step reductions; and internal associate surveys to identify training gaps and process choke points.
We believe our strategy has produced positive results for our customers, associates and stockholders and we have been applying this strategy in our acquired operations. Our strategy has allowed us to continually decrease customer service calls and truck rolls. We have achieved these operational efficiencies at the same time that our customer base grew rapidly, while simultaneously maintaining customer satisfaction scores.
Balanced capital allocation. We are committed to a disciplined approach to evaluating acquisitions, internal and external investments, capital structure optimization and return of capital in order to build long-term stockholder value. We proactively invest in our network, within both existing markets and in near-adjacent areas. We also assess available inorganic opportunities through either full acquisitions of, or strategic investments in, complementary companies as we believe part of our strategy is to be the natural aggregator of rural broadband assets in small cities and large towns. When identifying and assessing acquisition targets, we look for providers with a data-centric product mix, comparable market demographics, geographic alignment, attractive competitive positions, visible growth and margin expansion opportunities, stable financial performance, leading broadband technologies and similar cultures. When evaluating strategic investment opportunities, we look for companies that we would consider acquiring in the future that have proven operating leaders alongside trusted financial partners. We have historically returned capital to shareholders through dividends, opportunistic share repurchases and the paydown of outstanding debt.
Employ rigorous data analytics. In order to gain our deep understanding of our customers and drive profitable decision making throughout the organization, we have implemented a suite of business intelligence tools that enable us to identify and capitalize on profitable business opportunities. We use data analytics to help refine our go-to-market strategy, identify customers likely to produce higher relative value over the life of their service relationships with us and combat competitive threats in our markets through more targeted pricing and product offerings. Our investments in business intelligence have enabled us to integrate, analyze and visualize increasingly complex data sets, in near real-time, and in a format that drives strategic and operational decisions. As a result, our organization has more rapidly identified, modeled, tested, analyzed and implemented initiatives that align with our strategic focus of attracting and retaining higher relative value customers, supplemented by the targeting of a broader scope of incremental customers, including those who are more value-conscious. Business intelligence also enables us to be more predictive with customer habits and industry-wide trends. For example, our decision to focus on data-only customers was guided by such data analytics.
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Our Products
Residential Data Services
Residential data services represented 58.4%, 54.8% and 52.0% of our total revenues for 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We offer simplified data plans with lower pricing and higher speeds across our premium tiers, with download speeds up to 1 Gbps available to nearly all of our residential customers. In certain markets, we have rolled out multi-Gigabit download service offerings with further multi-Gigabit rollouts planned in the future. We also offer unlimited data options on most of our plans across most of our markets. Further, to meet the increasing bandwidth needs of our customers who use a growing number of devices in the home, we offer most of our customers our advanced Wi-Fi service combining state-of-the-art technology solutions with certified technicians, who locate and configure hardware based on individual customer needs. This service provides customers with enhanced Wi-Fi signal strength, which extends and improves the Wi-Fi signal throughout the home.
Business Services
We consider the data, voice and video products we provide to our business customers to be a separate product from our residential versions of these services. Business services represented 18.1%, 17.9% and 19.2% of our total revenues for 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We offer services for businesses ranging in size from small to mid-market, in addition to enterprise, wholesale and carrier customers. We believe we will continue to experience growth in sales to business customers over the long term given the sizeable total addressable market within our footprint and our history of expanding penetration rates.
Our offerings for small businesses are provided over both our fiber and HFC networks, with all new buildouts being fiber. Our data services offer various options with download speeds ranging from 25 Mbps up to 2 Gbps over HFC, with varying upload speeds, along with managed Wi-Fi. Our small business voice solutions include hosted voice with unified communications as a service from one line to multi-line options, including the availability of popular calling features like simultaneous ring, hunt groups and selective call forwarding. Business video packages range from a basic service tier to a comprehensive selection including variety, news and sports programming in high-definition. Our small- and medium-sized business customers experience up to 6 Gbps symmetrical speeds over fiber in select markets.
We offer delivery of data and voice services using fiber-to-the-premises technology primarily for mid-market customers. This shared fiber architecture provides for symmetrical data speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 6 Gbps. We expect to expand this technology to additional areas and markets each year for the foreseeable future, especially in our competitive locations.
For enterprise and wholesale customers, we offer dedicated bandwidth and Enterprise Wi-Fi in addition to multiple voice services via fiber optic technology. Our fiber optic-based products include dark fiber in addition to dedicated internet access and E-Line, E-Lan and E-Access Ethernet services. We also offer network-to-network interface connections to other carriers at multiple points of presence across the United States. Our enterprise customers experience symmetrical speeds of up to 10 Gbps over fiber.
Residential Video Services
Residential video services represented 15.4%, 19.1% and 21.2% of our total revenues for 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We offer a broad variety of residential video services, generally ranging from a basic video service to a full digital service with access to hundreds of channels. We now offer Sparklight TV, an IPTV video service that allows customers to stream our video channels from the cloud through a new app on supported devices, such as the Amazon Firestick, Apple TV and Android-based smart televisions, and provides a cloud-based DVR feature that does not require the use of a set-top box.
Residential Voice Services
Residential voice services represented 2.2%, 2.5% and 3.0% of our total revenues for 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively. The majority of our residential voice service offerings transmit digital voice signals over our network and are interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services. We also offer traditional telecommunications services through some of our subsidiaries.
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Competition
We operate in a highly competitive, subscriber-driven and rapidly changing industry and compete with a growing number of entities that provide a broad range of communications products, services and content to subscribers. Our competitors have historically included, and we expect will continue to include, telephone companies that offer data and video services through digital subscriber line (“DSL”) technology or fiber-to-the-node networks, municipalities and cooperatives with fiber-based networks, regional fiber providers and other service providers that have been granted a franchise to operate in a geographic market where we operate.
We also face increasing competition from wireless telephone companies for our residential voice services, as our customers continue to replace our residential voice services with wireless voice services. New entrants with significant financial resources may compete on a larger scale with our video and data services, and as more wireless voice service providers offer unlimited data options, some customers may choose to forgo our data services altogether. We may also face increasing competition from various providers of wireless internet offerings, including FWA data providers that are deploying high-speed “5G” wireless networks where they have higher capacity spectrum and public locations or commercial establishments offering Wi-Fi at no cost. To date we have not experienced meaningful FWA-triggered customer losses. However, new value-conscious customer acquisitions have been impacted by the presence of FWA providers in certain of our markets. As FWA data providers enter our markets, we believe we will be in a strong long-term competitive position as our wired infrastructure provides for speeds and capacity far in excess of what any FWA offering can provide given the limitations of the technology.
In approximately half of our footprint, we do not have a wired competitor that offers residential broadband download speeds of 100 Mbps or higher, which is only a third of the speed of our flagship 300 Mbps residential high-speed data offering.
Certain municipalities and cooperatives have also announced plans to construct their own data networks with access speeds that match or exceed ours through the use of fiber-to-the-node or fiber-to-the-premises technology. In some cases, local government entities and municipal utilities may legally compete with us without obtaining a franchise from a state or local governmental franchising authority (“LFA”), reducing their barriers to entry into our markets. The entrance of municipalities as competitors in our markets would add to the competition we face and could lead to some customer attrition.
Competition for dedicated fiber-optic services for enterprise business customers is also intense as both local telephone companies and regional overbuilders offer data and voice services over dedicated fiber connections. While certain of these entities are currently more widely known for dedicated fiber services than we are, we maintain a competitive advantage through our local presence and deep customer relationships in the communities we serve.
While not an area of strategic focus for us, our video business also faces substantial and increasing competition from other forms of in-home and mobile entertainment, including, among others, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, YouTube TV and an increasing number of new entrants who offer OTT video programming, including many traditional programmers. Because of the significant size and financial resources of many of the companies behind such service offerings, we anticipate that they will continue to invest resources in increasing the availability of video content over the internet, which may result in less demand for the video services we provide. Despite the negative impact this competition has on our video business, these services also generate additional demand for our residential data business due to customers’ continued growing need for data services.
In addition, federal and state governments have offered billions of dollars in subsidies to companies deploying broadband to areas deemed to be “unserved” or “underserved,” using funds from the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund ("RDOF") auction in 2020, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) and The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (the “Infrastructure Act”). In some cases, we are the recipient of these subsidies, and in others, we have opposed or challenged grants of such subsidies to competitors when directed to areas we already serve. Our challenge efforts may not always be successful and efforts to use governmental funds to subsidize the deployment of broadband in areas we already serve could result in increased competition.
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Human Capital Resources
Associate Metrics
As of December 31, 2023, we had 2,993 full-time and part-time associates, compared to 3,132 full-time and part-time associates at December 31, 2022. None of our associates were represented by a union as of December 31, 2023 or 2022.
Associate Engagement, Retention and Compensation Programs and Benefits
We believe our associates are our most important resource and are critical to our continued success. We strive to attract, develop, motivate and retain associates with an emphasis on performance and productivity. We seek to maintain alignment, foster accountability and encourage long-term focus throughout all levels of associates at our Company. Our average associate tenure at Cable One (or its predecessors) is nearly 11 years.
Our senior management team is comprised of executives who have significant experience in our industry. They also understand and are deeply committed to our strategy, which we developed, enhanced and updated on a collaborative basis over many years. Our executive officers have an average industry tenure of nearly 23 years and an average tenure at Cable One (or its predecessors) of over 10 years, and we believe this team is deeply knowledgeable about cost and competitive conditions in our markets.
Our total rewards compensation philosophy encompasses pay, health benefits, incentives, wellness and career development options. Our pay-for-performance philosophy permeates our organization. Merit increases are based on individual performance and market conditions, and all associates are eligible for an annual bonus based on objective corporate performance goals shared by everyone in the Company.
We also focus on associate satisfaction. We believe that customer satisfaction is tightly linked to associate satisfaction, which routine internal measurements have shown to be consistently high throughout the past decade. We currently measure our associate satisfaction annually along with conducting multiple periodic associate surveys. Management reviews our associate satisfaction surveys to monitor associate morale and receive feedback on a variety of issues.
Talent Development and Training
We believe in investing in the development and careers of our associates to allow them to reach their potential in a competitive, constantly changing and innovative industry. We engage our associates through internal and external programs to develop specialized knowledge and leadership skills. Associates have access to online development programs for professional skills and certification preparation through our e-learning platform. Specialized technical training for eligible associates helps them grow professionally and enables them to provide differentiated customer experience. Our tuition reimbursement program enables associates to earn certificates in areas such as network programming, data analysis and network administration and security. Others leverage our educational benefits to earn their associates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
To prepare associates for current and future leadership roles at our Company, we invest heavily in leadership development programs for everyone from frontline leaders to executive leadership through both in-house and third-party learning courses. Company leaders receive training on leadership expectations, developing associates, building great teams and competing to win to ensure we continue developing future leaders for Cable One.
We have a long track record of promoting associates from within, including Julia M. Laulis, our Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, who has been with Cable One for nearly 25 years and began her Cable One career as a Director of Marketing.
Health and Safety
Our safety team is responsible for company-wide safety education and training programs. In an effort to minimize or eliminate hazards, we regularly analyze indicators and areas where risks and injuries can occur. We also have mandatory compliance and safety training for associates, who completed more than 32,000 instructional hours in 2023 in total.
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Equality
We are an equal opportunity employer that strives to provide an inclusive and respectful environment for a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives and experiences. We are committed to fostering an environment in which all associates and customers are valued. We foster a diverse and inclusive culture by offering competitive compensation, a comprehensive rewards program and opportunities for all of our associates to grow personally and professionally. Our Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board (the “I&D Advisory Board”) is made up of individuals across the organization from frontline associates to members of management. The I&D Advisory Board was created to further strengthen a culture of respect and inclusion at Cable One. Members of our I&D Advisory Board cultivate resources that are accessible on our intranet, bring in outside speakers and host events to inform, educate and provide all associates with a voice to share their unique experiences, perspectives and viewpoints. In 2023, a total of 2,437 participants joined different sessions.
Available Information and Website
Our internet address is www.sparklight.com. We make available free of charge through our investor relations website, ir.cableone.net, copies of our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), as soon as reasonably practicable after such documents are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. Printed copies of these documents will be furnished without charge (except exhibits) to any stockholder upon written request addressed to our Secretary at 210 E. Earll Drive, Phoenix, Arizona 85012. The SEC maintains a website, www.sec.gov, that contains the reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.
The contents of these websites are not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K and shall not be deemed “filed” under the Exchange Act. Further, our references to website URLs are intended to be inactive textual references only.
Information About Our Executive Officers
The following table presents certain information, as of February 22, 2024, concerning our executive officers.
NameAgePosition
Julia M. Laulis61Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer
Michael E. Bowker55Chief Growth Officer
Todd M. Koetje47Chief Financial Officer
Kenneth E. Johnson60Chief Technology and Innovation Officer
Megan M. Detz47Chief People Officer
Peter N. Witty56Chief Legal and Administrative Officer
Matthew Armstrong41Senior Vice President, Residential Services
Christopher D. Boone41Senior Vice President, Business Services and Emerging Markets
Julia M. Laulis
Ms. Laulis has been Chair of the Board since January 2018, Chief Executive Officer and a member of our Board of Directors (the “Board”) since January 2017 and President of Cable One since January 2015.
Ms. Laulis joined Cable One in 1999 as Director of Marketing – Northwest Division. In 2001, she was named Vice President of Operations for the Southwest Division. In 2004, she became responsible for starting Cable One’s Phoenix Customer Care Center. Ms. Laulis was named Chief Operations Officer in 2008, responsible for the Company's three operation divisions and two call centers. In 2012, Ms. Laulis was named Chief Operating Officer, adding sales, marketing and technology to her responsibilities. In January 2015, she was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer.
Prior to joining Cable One, Ms. Laulis was with Jones Communications in the Washington, D.C. area and Denver, where she served in various marketing management positions. Ms. Laulis began her 39-year career in the cable industry with Hauser Communications.
Ms. Laulis serves on the boards of The AES Corporation, CableLabs and C-SPAN.
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Michael E. Bowker
Mr. Bowker has been Chief Growth Officer of Cable One since October 2023.
Mr. Bowker joined Cable One in 1999 as Advertising Regional Sales Manager. Mr. Bowker has been a Vice President of Cable One since 2005. He was named Vice President of Sales in 2012, was promoted to Senior Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer in 2014 and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2017.
Prior to joining Cable One, Mr. Bowker was with AT&T Media Services and TCI Cable, where he served in various sales management positions.
Mr. Bowker serves as Vice Chairman of ACA Connects — America’s Communications Association.
Todd M. Koetje
Mr. Koetje has been Chief Financial Officer of Cable One since July 2022. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Business Development and Finance of Cable One from August 2021 through June 2022.
Prior to joining Cable One, Mr. Koetje served as Managing Director & Group Head of the Technology, Media & Telecommunications Leveraged Finance team at Truist Securities.
Kenneth E. Johnson
Mr. Johnson has been Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of Cable One since October 2023. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Technology Services from May 2018 through December 2022 and Chief Technology and Digital Officer from January 2023 through September 2023.
Mr. Johnson joined Cable One in 2017 as Vice President, Northeast Division following Cable One’s acquisition of NewWave.
Prior to joining Cable One, Mr. Johnson served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer for NewWave. Prior to NewWave, Mr. Johnson was Chief Technology Officer for SureWest Communications and Everest Connections.
Mr. Johnson serves on the board of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.
Megan M. Detz
Ms. Detz has been Chief People Officer of Cable One since October 2023.
Ms. Detz joined Cable One following the Hargray Acquisition in May 2021 and served as Senior Vice President, Human Resources through September 2023.
Prior to joining Cable One, Ms. Detz served as Senior Vice President, Human Resources & Administration at Hargray. Prior to Hargray, Ms. Detz was Chief People Officer at VARIDESK and Senior Vice President, Human Capital at NTT DATA, Inc.
Peter N. Witty
Mr. Witty has been Chief Legal and Administrative Officer of Cable One since October 2023.
Mr. Witty joined Cable One in 2018 as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary.
Prior to joining Cable One, Mr. Witty served as General Counsel and Secretary for Gas Technology Institute (“GTI”), an energy research, development and training organization. Prior to GTI, he spent 10 years with Abbott Laboratories, serving in various positions, including as Senior Counsel and Division Counsel. Mr. Witty previously practiced law as an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP and Ross & Hardies (now McGuireWoods LLP).
Matthew Armstrong
Mr. Armstrong has been Senior Vice President, Residential Services of Cable One since September 2023.
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Mr. Armstrong joined Cable One in 2010 as the Director of Strategic Analysis and was promoted to Vice President of Finance and Strategic Planning in 2012. Mr. Armstrong left Cable One in 2014 and held various finance and operations roles in pre-initial public offering consumer companies, including Lending Club and Shift Technologies. Prior to rejoining Cable One in 2023, he was the co-founder and CEO of Unlocked, a real estate company.
Prior to joining Cable One in 2010, Armstrong worked at Bain Capital and Bain & Company.
Christopher D. Boone
Mr. Boone has been Senior Vice President, Business Services and Emerging Markets of Cable One since January 2021.
Mr. Boone joined Cable One in 2010 as a Business Sales Manager. He was named Vice President of Business Services in 2016.
Prior to joining Cable One, Mr. Boone was with Cox Communications, where he served in various sales management roles.
Regulation and Legislation
General
Our data, video and voice operations are subject to various requirements imposed by U.S. federal, state and local governmental authorities. Certain legislative, regulatory and judicial matters discussed in this section have the potential to adversely affect our data, video and voice businesses. The following discussion does not purport to be a complete summary of all the provisions of federal, state and local law that may affect our operations. Proposals for additional or revised regulations and requirements are pending before Congress, state legislatures and federal and state regulatory agencies. We generally cannot predict whether new legislation or regulations, court action or a change in the extent of application or enforcement of current laws and regulations would have an adverse impact on our operations.
Broadband Internet Access Services
Broadband internet access service, which we currently offer in all our systems, is subject to some regulation at the federal level and is not subject to state or local government regulation at this time, except for the state net neutrality laws discussed below.
Regulatory Reclassification and Net Neutrality Regulation. In 2017, the FCC adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (the “Internet Freedom Order”), which reinstated broadband internet access service as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Communications Act”). The Internet Freedom Order rescinded the majority of the open internet rules adopted by the FCC in 2015 in the Open Internet Order, with the exception of enhanced disclosure requirements that require broadband internet access service providers to disclose information regarding network management, performance and commercial terms of the service to their customers. In October 2020, the FCC reaffirmed its previous findings about the Internet Freedom Order after certain issues were remanded to it by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In July 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy that encouraged the FCC to consider adopting net neutrality rules similar to those originally adopted in 2015. In October 2023, the FCC initiated a new rulemaking proceeding, which proposes to reclassify broadband internet access service as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act and to impose certain requirements on broadband internet access service providers intended to safeguard the open internet, advance national security and protect public safety. The FCC also has proposed certain conduct rules for providers, but has proposed to forbear from application of other rules typically imposed on Title II services. Comments on the FCC’s proposals were filed in December 2023 and January 2024. We cannot predict whether or when the FCC will act on its proposals. Any such action by the FCC likely would be subject to further judicial review.
Numerous states, including Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri (where we have subscribers), also have proposed administrative actions and/or legislation in the past or currently are considering such actions, which could lead to increased regulation of our provision of data services, including proposed rules regarding net neutrality. Several states, including Oregon and Washington (where we also have subscribers), have adopted legislation that requires entities providing broadband internet access service in the state to comply with net neutrality requirements or that prohibits state and local government agencies from contracting with internet service providers that engage in certain network management activities based on paid prioritization, content blocking or other discrimination. The FCC is reviewing the extent to which states may continue to impose regulations on broadband internet access services if the FCC’s proposals are adopted. We cannot predict whether or to what extent state requirements will be applied to our data services in the future.
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Net neutrality obligations adopted at either the federal or state level could cause us to incur additional compliance costs, and the enforcement or interpretation of these new obligations could adversely affect our business. We cannot predict whether or when any future changes to the regulatory framework for broadband internet access services will occur at the federal or state level or whether or to what extent those changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
The FCC has proposed to forbear from application of Federal Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contribution obligations to providers of broadband internet access services. However, there have been several bills introduced in Congress that would require providers to contribute to the Federal USF on the basis of their broadband internet access service revenues. We cannot predict whether such contribution obligations will apply to our data services in the future or whether or how the imposition of such contribution obligations will affect our operations and business.
The FCC also has tentatively concluded that reclassification of broadband internet access service would enhance the FCC’s ability to ensure resilient and reliable communications networks by allowing the FCC to access outage information for broadband internet access services. In a separate proceeding, the FCC is considering whether to impose outage reporting requirements on broadband internet access service providers. We cannot predict whether outage reporting obligations will apply to our data services in the future or whether or how the imposition of such obligations will affect our operations and business.
Disclosure and Non-Discrimination Requirements. As stated above, the FCC’s current rules require broadband internet access service providers to disclose certain information regarding network management, performance and commercial terms of the service to their customers. As part of the Infrastructure Act, Congress ordered the FCC to conduct a rulemaking to consider imposing additional consumer disclosure requirements on broadband internet access service providers using “broadband labels.” The majority of the FCC's new broadband label requirements are scheduled to take effect on April 10, 2024. In addition, the Infrastructure Act required the FCC to adopt rules to facilitate equal access to broadband internet access service and prevent digital discrimination of access, including the development of model policies and best practices, and a process to accept public complaints relating to digital discrimination. In November 2023, the FCC adopted rules prohibiting broadband internet access service providers from adopting, implementing or utilizing policies or practices, not justified by genuine issues of technical or economic feasibility, that differentially impact consumers’ access to broadband internet access service based on their income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin or are intended to have such differential impact, and established a complaint process. These new rules are effective March 22, 2024, except for certain rules that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget. Compliance with these new obligations could cause us to incur additional compliance costs, and the enforcement or interpretation of these new obligations could adversely affect our business. We cannot predict whether or to what extent these changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
Emergency Broadband Benefit and Affordable Connectivity Programs. In 2021, we participated in the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) program, which provided qualifying low-income consumers a discount on certain of our broadband internet access services for which we received reimbursement from the FCC. On December 31, 2021, the EBB program transitioned to the Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”) as required by the Infrastructure Act. The ACP allows us to seek reimbursement for certain broadband internet access service discounts provided to qualifying low-income consumers. We are subject to various compliance obligations in connection with our participation in the EBB program and the ACP, which may cause us to incur additional compliance costs. The funding for the ACP authorized under the Infrastructure Act is expected to be depleted by April 2024 although Congress recently introduced a bill to extend the funding. We cannot predict whether Congress will provide additional funding to extend the ACP, or on what terms, or whether the FCC will be forced to end the program for lack of funding. We also cannot predict whether or when any future changes to the ACP may occur, or whether or to what extent those changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
Privacy. Broadband internet access service is subject to many of the same federal and state privacy laws that apply to other electronic communications. These include the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which addresses interceptions of electronic communications that are in transit; the Stored Communications Act, which addresses acquisitions of electronic data in storage; and other federal and state privacy laws and regulations. As the collection and use of consumer data becomes more prevalent in the communications industry, our compliance obligations may grow. In addition, privacy legislation has been proposed at the federal and state level, some of which would require broadband service providers to apply heightened privacy and security protections to customer data. We cannot predict whether, when or to what extent these obligations may impose costs on our business.
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In addition to FCC privacy regulations governing broadband internet access service, the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) also may exercise authority over privacy by using its existing authority over unfair and deceptive acts or practices to apply greater restrictions on the collection and use of personally identifiable and other information relating to consumers. The FTC also has undertaken numerous enforcement actions against parties that do not provide sufficient security protections against the loss or unauthorized disclosure of this type of information. We also are subject to stringent data security and data retention requirements that apply to website operators and online services directed to children under 13 years of age, or that knowingly collect or post personal information of children under 13 years of age. Other privacy-oriented laws have been extended by courts to online video providers and are increasingly being used in privacy lawsuits, including class actions, against providers of video materials online. We cannot predict whether, when or to what extent these obligations may impose costs on our business.
We are also subject to federal and state laws and regulations regarding data security that primarily apply to sensitive personal information that could be used to commit identity theft. Most states have security breach notification laws that generally require a business to give notice to consumers and government agencies when certain information has been disclosed due to a security breach, and the FCC has adopted security breach rules for voice services that require certain notifications to be given when breaches occur. Several states have also enacted general data security requirements to safeguard consumer information, including the proper disposal of consumer information. We cannot predict whether, when or to what extent these obligations may impose costs on our business.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Owners of copyrights and trademarks actively seek to prevent use of the internet to violate their rights. For example, copyright and trademark owners may assert claims that a customer used an internet service or resources accessed via the internet to post, download or disseminate copyrighted music, movies, software or other content without the consent of the copyright owner. In some cases, copyright and trademark owners have sought to recover damages from the broadband internet access service provider as well as or instead of the customer. The law relating to the potential liability of broadband internet access service providers in these circumstances is unsettled. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act grants broadband internet access service providers protection against certain claims of copyright infringement resulting from the actions of customers if the internet provider complies with certain requirements. Congress has not adopted similar immunity for broadband internet access service providers for trademark infringement claims.
Video Services
Title VI of the Communications Act establishes the principal federal regulatory framework for our operation of cable systems and the provision of our video services. The Communications Act allocates primary responsibility for enforcing the federal policies among the FCC and state and local governmental authorities.
Franchising. We are required to obtain franchises or authorizations from state or local governmental authorities to operate our cable systems. Those franchises typically are non-exclusive and limited in time, contain various conditions and limitations and provide for the payment of fees to the local authority, determined generally as a percentage of revenues. Federal law restricts franchise fee payments to 5% of the gross revenues of a cable system that are derived from the provision of video services. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of a franchise may give rise to rights of termination by the franchising authority.
A number of states in which we operate have adopted franchising laws that provide for statewide franchising. Generally, statewide cable franchises are issued for a fixed term, reduce many burdensome requirements contained in traditional local cable franchises and eliminate the need for local oversight and negotiation. Various other state and local statutes, ordinances and administrative laws additionally govern our operation in particular communities.
Prior to the scheduled expiration of our franchises, we generally initiate renewal proceedings with the granting authorities. Federal law provides for an orderly franchise renewal process in which local authorities may not unreasonably withhold franchise renewals. In connection with the franchise renewal process, however, many local governmental authorities require the cable operator to make additional commitments.
In August 2019, the FCC issued an order that limits the scope of demands state and local authorities may require in exchange for issuing or renewing a franchise. The FCC’s order clarified that state and local franchising authorities are prohibited from using their video franchising authority to regulate the provision of non-cable services, including broadband, Wi-Fi and VoIP services delivered over “mixed use” systems that offer a variety of services. The FCC also held that non-monetary in-kind contributions required by a franchising authority count as franchise fees subject to the 5% cap on such fees. The majority of the FCC’s order was upheld by the Sixth Circuit on appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the case. Local government representatives have been lobbying the FCC to further modify its franchising rules, including the "mixed use" rule. We cannot predict whether or to what extent any revised rules may affect our operations or impose costs on our business.
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The FCC has adopted rules designed to expedite the process of awarding competitive franchises and relieving applicants for competing franchises of some locally imposed franchise obligations. These rules are especially beneficial to new entrants and are expected to continue to accelerate competition we are experiencing in the video service marketplace.
Rate Regulation and Disclosures. FCC regulations prohibit LFAs or the FCC from regulating the rates cable systems charge for certain levels of video service, equipment and service calls when those cable systems are subject to “effective competition.” FCC regulations contain a presumption that all cable systems are subject to the effective-competition exemption unless proven otherwise.
The FCC has proposed to prohibit cable operators from imposing early termination fees (a fee for terminating a contract prior to its expiration date) and billing cycle fees (requiring a subscriber to pay for a complete billing cycle if the subscriber terminates service prior to the end of that billing cycle) on subscribers. The FCC also is considering whether to require cable operators to specify the “all-in” price (the total cost including fees) for service in their promotional materials and on subscriber bills. We cannot predict whether the FCC will adopt these proposals or to what extent the final rules may affect our operations or impose costs on our business.
Carriage of Local Television Broadcast Stations. There are two alternative legal methods for carriage of local broadcast television stations on cable systems. Federal “must carry” regulations require cable systems to carry local broadcast television stations upon the request of the local broadcaster. As a result, certain of our cable systems must carry broadcast stations that we might not otherwise have elected to carry.
Alternatively, federal law includes “retransmission consent” regulations, under which broadcasters can elect to prohibit carriage unless the cable operator first negotiates for retransmission consent, which may be conditioned on significant payments or other concessions from cable operators, such as commitments to carry other program services offered by a station or an affiliated company, to purchase advertising on a station or to provide advertising availability on cable channels to a station or to provide cash compensation. This development increases operating costs for video service providers, which ultimately increases the rates for video subscribers.
The FCC and Congress have imposed additional requirements in this area, including restrictions on broadcasters’ ability to jointly negotiate with video providers for carriage of their stations, and the requirement that parties negotiate retransmission consent in good faith. The FCC has stated that it would not adopt additional rules governing good faith negotiations for retransmission consent, but it would be prepared to assist in negotiations when necessary. Additional government-mandated broadcast carriage obligations, including those related to the FCC’s newly adopted enhanced technical broadcasting option (Advanced Television Systems Committee 3.0), could disrupt existing programming commitments and increase our costs of carrying such programming.
The FCC has had an open proceeding since 2014 to review whether streaming platforms should be subject to the same carriage and retransmission consent regulations as traditional cable operators. In recent months, members of Congress and local broadcasters have asked the FCC to refresh the record of this proceeding given the changes in the marketplace in the past ten years. The FCC also is considering whether to adopt rules that would require cable operators to notify the FCC when television station blackouts occur due to failure to reach an agreement on retransmission consent, and rules that would require cable operators to refund subscribers affected by programming blackouts due to retransmission consent negotiations. We cannot predict whether or when the FCC may act on these proposals or to what extent any revised rules may affect our operations or impose costs on our business.
Media Ownership Rules. The FCC is required to review its media ownership rules every four years. The FCC took steps in 2017 to relax its media ownership rules, including restrictions on the number of commonly owned television stations per market as well as on newspaper/broadcast and radio/television station cross-ownership. These changes will likely lead to increased consolidation of the television broadcast stations and station groups, with a corresponding increase in the negotiating leverage that broadcasters and station groups hold in retransmission consent negotiations, thereby possibly increasing the amounts we pay broadcasters for retransmission consent. The FCC recently concluded its regular review of its media ownership rules in which it retained the existing rules and adopted minor modifications to better tailor the rules to the current media marketplace. The FCC’s action likely will be subject to further judicial review. We cannot predict the outcome of future reviews by the FCC and any subsequent review by the courts, and whether or to what extent any further revisions of the rules by the FCC or the courts may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
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Pole Attachments. Federal law requires most telephone companies and electric power utilities owning utility poles to provide cable systems with access to poles and underground conduits. Federal law also requires those entities to charge reasonable rates to cable operators for utilizing space on such poles or in such underground conduits. The FCC’s pole attachment rules contain a formula for calculating pole rental rates that provide for similar rates for telecommunications attachments and cable attachments and prohibit utility companies from charging higher rates for pole attachments used to provide broadband internet access service. The FCC has also adopted rules to facilitate new attachments, including a one-touch make-ready procedure for new attachments which took effect in August 2020. The FCC’s rules do not apply in states that have chosen to adopt their own pole attachment rules, which may make it more difficult to obtain access to poles in those states. In December 2023, the FCC further modified its pole attachment rules to make the pole attachment process faster, more transparent and more cost effective for the deployment of broadband services. We cannot predict how these changes, or any future changes, to the pole attachment rules may affect our operations or impose costs on our business. As a general matter, changes to our pole attachment rate structure could significantly increase our annual pole attachment costs.
Federal Copyright Issues. The Copyright Act of 1976, as amended (the “Copyright Act”), gives cable systems the ability, under certain terms and conditions and assuming that any applicable retransmission consents have been obtained, to retransmit the signals of television stations pursuant to a compulsory copyright license. The U.S. Copyright Office is considering requests for clarification and revisions of certain cable compulsory copyright license reporting requirements, and from time to time, other revisions to the cable compulsory copyright rules are considered. We cannot predict the outcome of any such inquiries. However, it is possible that changes in the rules or copyright compulsory license fee computations or compliance procedures could have an adverse effect on our business by, for example, increasing copyright compulsory license fee costs or by causing us to reduce or discontinue carriage of certain broadcast signals that we currently carry on a discretionary basis. Copyright clearances for non-broadcast programming services are arranged through private negotiations. Cable operators also must obtain music rights for locally originated programming and advertising from the major music performing rights organizations. These licensing fees have been the source of litigation in the past, and we cannot predict with certainty whether license fee disputes may arise in the future.
Customer Equipment. Congress, the FCC and other government agencies have for some time been developing and implementing regulations that affect the types of set-top boxes that cable operators can lease or deploy to their subscribers. Prior to 2015, FCC rules banned the integration of security and non-security function in set-top boxes and required multichannel video programming distributors to allow third-party vendors to provide set-top boxes with basic converter functions. In 2015, Congress repealed the integration ban and mandated that the FCC establish a working group to identify, report on and recommend a successor technology- and platform-neutral security solution. Various parties continue to advocate to Congress and the administrative agencies for new regulatory approaches to reduce consumer dependency on traditional operator-provided set-top boxes that, if adopted, could affect our business in the future. We cannot predict if or when new changes may be proposed, what effect such changes may have on our operations, or if they will increase our costs and impair our ability to deliver programming to our customers.
Other Regulatory Requirements. The FCC regulates various other aspects of our video business, including, among other things, equal employment opportunity obligations; customer service standards; technical service standards; mandatory blackouts of certain network and syndicated programming; restrictions on political advertising; restrictions on advertising in children’s programming; maintenance of public files; emergency alert systems; inside wiring and exclusive contracts for service provided to apartment and condominium complexes; and disability access, including requirements governing video-description and closed-captioning. Each of these regulations restricts our business practices to varying degrees and may impose additional costs on our operations. We cannot predict whether, when or to what extent changes to these and other regulations may affect our operations or costs.
Voice Services
Our voice services are subject to varying degrees of federal and state regulation. Telecommunications services are subject to extensive regulation at both the federal and state levels while interconnected VoIP services are subject to a lesser degree of regulation.
Voice Over Internet Protocol. Service providers, including us and others, offer interconnected VoIP service, which permits users to make voice calls over broadband communications networks, including the internet, to recipients on the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) and other broadband communications networks. Federal law preempts state and local regulatory barriers to the offering of voice service by service providers, and the FCC and federal courts generally have preempted state laws that seek to regulate or classify VoIP.
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The FCC has held that VoIP services are internet protocol-enabled services, which are interstate in nature and thus subject exclusively to the FCC’s federal jurisdiction and not to state regulation. This decision was upheld on appeal, although the FCC has an ongoing proceeding to consider whether VoIP services provided by service providers are properly classified as an “information service,” “telecommunications service” or some other new category of service. This determination, once made, could have numerous regulatory implications for service providers that provide interconnected VoIP services, including us. Although the FCC has yet to ascribe a regulatory definition to interconnected VoIP services, the FCC nevertheless has imposed numerous obligations on interconnected VoIP service providers, some of which are discussed more fully below.
In 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota held that the VoIP service of another cable operator was an “information service” which prevented the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission from regulating VoIP as a telecommunications service in Minnesota. The district court’s decision was upheld on appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the case. We cannot predict whether other states will attempt to subject VoIP services to entry and rate regulation, the outcome of such proceedings or how those proceedings may affect our operations or impose costs on our business.
State Regulation of Telecommunications Services. We offer telecommunications services as competitive local exchange carriers (“CLECs”) through several of our subsidiaries. Providers of telecommunications services usually are required to obtain licenses or authorizations from state regulatory commissions prior to offering intrastate telecommunications services. We hold CLEC licenses to provide telecommunications services in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, and have an application pending in Arizona. We also are required to comply with state reporting, fee payment, tariffing and other obligations imposed on telecommunications services. Many states require prior approval for corporate and financial transactions, and compliance with these requirements could delay and increase the cost we incur to complete such transactions. Failure to comply with requirements applicable to telecommunications services could subject us to fines, penalties or other enforcement consequences.
Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier Regulation. We offer telecommunications services as an incumbent local exchange carrier (“ILEC”) in Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina through our subsidiaries. ILECs generally are subject to more stringent regulation than CLECs. Federal law imposes a variety of duties on all telecommunications carriers providing local telephone services, including requirements to interconnect with other telecommunications carriers; establish reciprocal compensation arrangements for the completion of calls; permit the resale of services; permit users to retain their telephone numbers when changing carriers; and provide competing carriers access to poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of-way. ILECs are subject to additional duties to offer interconnection at any technologically feasible point within their networks on non-discriminatory, cost-based terms; offer co-location of competitors’ equipment at their premises on a non-discriminatory basis; make available some of their network facilities, features and capabilities, referred to as Unbundled Network Elements, on non-discriminatory, cost-based terms; and offer wholesale versions of their retail services for resale at discounted rates. Our ILEC subsidiaries are currently exempt from certain of these obligations because they qualify as “rural telephone companies” under federal law. Failure to comply with requirements applicable to ILEC operations could subject us to fines, penalties or other enforcement consequences.
Emergency 911 Services. The FCC has ruled that an interconnected VoIP service provider that enables its customers to make calls to and receive calls from persons who use the PSTN must provide its customers with the same enhanced 911 (“E911”) features that traditional telephone, telecommunications and wireless companies are obligated to provide. The FCC has also established indoor location requirements when E911 calls are made by interconnected VoIP subscribers. The FCC also requires certain providers of facilities-based fixed, residential voice services, which includes interconnected VoIP service providers, to offer backup power options to consumers and to inform consumers of the availability of such options. In October 2019, the FCC clarified that state, local, and tribal governments cannot charge the same class of subscribers higher total 911 fees for VoIP services than for traditional telecommunications services with the same 911 calling capability.
CALEA. FCC regulations require providers of voice services to comply with the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which requires covered entities and their equipment suppliers to deploy equipment that law enforcement officials can access readily for lawful wiretap purposes.
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Universal Service Contributions. The FCC has determined that interconnected VoIP service providers must contribute to the USF. Providers of telecommunications service also are required to contribute to the Federal USF. The amount of a company’s USF contribution is based on a percentage of revenues earned from end-user interstate and international telecommunications and/or interconnected VoIP services. We are permitted to recover these contributions from our customers. In 2012, the FCC initiated a proceeding that focused on reforming the nature and manner in which entities should contribute to the USF and at what levels. As noted above, some have suggested that Federal USF contribution requirements be imposed on broadband internet access service providers. We cannot predict whether and how such reform will occur and the extent to which it may affect providers of VoIP, telecommunications and broadband internet access services, including us and our competitors.
States also may impose state USF fees on telecommunications services, and the FCC has determined that states may impose state USF fees on interconnected VoIP service providers subject to certain limitations and requirements. State USF contributions often are based on a percentage of revenues earned from end-user intrastate telecommunications services and/or interconnected VoIP services, and we are typically permitted to recover these contributions from our customers. We cannot predict whether or how the imposition of such state-based universal service fees will affect our operations and business.
Federal Subsidies and Grants. The FCC has adopted rules intended to transition the USF so that it supports the build out of broadband rather than telecommunications facilities. Certain of our subsidiaries providing telecommunications services and/or interconnected VoIP services have been designated as eligible telecommunications carriers and as such receive or will receive federal and state funds for operations in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois (pending), Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina. We also receive reimbursement from the schools and libraries universal service support program, commonly known as E-rate, and from the Rural Health Care Fund for discounted services provided throughout our service territory. The FCC has several proceedings pending that could affect our ability to continue receiving such federal funding. We cannot predict whether or how these programs will be changed, or how such changes will affect our operations or business. Some of our ILEC subsidiaries also receive disbursements from the federal USF under Phase 2 of the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model ("ACAM") program and the FCC's recently adopted Enhanced ACAM program. To continue to receive such disbursements, we are required to meet certain build-out milestones over the next ten years and provide broadband internet access services at certain FCC-defined speeds. We are also a grant recipient under the FCC’s RDOF program, which requires us to meet certain build-out and public service obligations over a ten-year period. While we intend to satisfy these build-out obligations within the required timeframes, there can be no assurance that we will complete the build-out in a timely manner or at all. We also cannot predict what impact the costs of complying with the build-out obligations will have on our operations.
In addition, the FCC has focused on subsidizing broadband deployment and this shift could help some of our competitors. For example, the FCC revised the program that provides universal service support for services to schools and libraries to shift support from voice services to broadband services and to deployment of Wi-Fi networks. Similarly, the FCC has expanded its Lifeline subsidy program for low-income consumers to cover broadband services in addition to voice services and is considering further changes that may affect the Lifeline program. We cannot predict whether or how these programs will be changed, or the impact such changes will have on our operations or business.
Intercarrier Compensation. The FCC regulates switched access service rates imposed by local telecommunications carriers on interexchange carriers for the origination and termination of long-distance telecommunications traffic. The FCC has adopted intercarrier compensation rules under which switched access service rates for all traffic that interconnects with the PSTN were reduced and a uniform bill-and-keep framework for both intrastate and interstate terminating access traffic will result. The reforms required by the FCC’s rules were phased in over a multi-year period. Future FCC determinations regarding the rates, terms and conditions for transporting and terminating such traffic could have a profound and material effect on the profitability of providing voice and data services.
Customer Proprietary Network Information. Telecommunications services and interconnected VoIP services are subject to customer proprietary network information ("CPNI") protections, which extend CPNI protection requirements to the customers of such providers. CPNI is information about the quantity, technical configuration, type, location and amount of a voice customer’s use. These requirements generally increase the cost of providing voice service, as providers must implement various safeguards to protect CPNI from unauthorized disclosure. The FCC recently adopted new reporting and notice requirements for security breaches of CPNI and certain personally identifiable information. We cannot predict the impact these new requirements will have on our operations or business.
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Access for Persons with Disabilities. FCC regulations require providers of interconnected VoIP services to comply with all disability access requirements that apply to telecommunications services, including the provision of telecommunications relay services for persons with speech or hearing impairments. The FCC also has adopted reporting requirements associated with disability access obligations. We must also contribute to the interstate Telecommunications Relay Service Fund to support such access. These requirements generally have had the effect of increasing the cost of providing voice services.
Service Discontinuance and Outage Obligations. The FCC has adopted rules subjecting providers of interconnected VoIP services to the same service discontinuance requirements applicable to providers of wireline telecommunication services. The FCC has also adopted mandatory outage reporting requirements for interconnected VoIP service providers, which apply when customers of interconnected VoIP service lose service or connectivity and, as a result, are unable to access 911 service. Telecommunications services are subject to similar requirements. Along with other FCC actions described herein that impose legacy telecom obligations on interconnected VoIP providers, this development subjects our interconnected VoIP services to greater regulation and, therefore, greater burdens and costs. As noted above, the FCC also has proposed applying similar outage reporting requirements to providers of broadband internet access services, which could further affect our cost of doing business.
Regulatory Fees. The FCC requires telecommunications service and interconnected VoIP service providers to contribute to shared costs of FCC regulation through an annual regulatory fee assessment. These fees have increased our cost of providing voice services. The FCC revises its regulatory fees from time to time and sometimes creates new fees. We cannot predict when or the extent to which the FCC will adopt new rules or regulatory fees affecting telecommunications service and VoIP service providers, which could affect our cost of doing business.
Local Number Portability. Providers of telecommunications services and interconnected VoIP services and their “numbering partners” must ensure that their subscribers have the ability to port their telephone numbers when changing service providers. We also must contribute funds to cover the shared costs of local number portability and the costs of the North American Numbering Plan Administration. FCC rules require additional numbering requirements, such as allowing consumers access to abbreviated dialing codes like 211 and 311 in certain circumstances, to be applied to interconnected VoIP service providers. Local number portability and associated rules overall have had the effect of increasing the cost of providing voice service.
Rural Calling Issues. The FCC has adopted rules to combat problems with the completion of long-distance calls to rural areas. The rules applied detailed record keeping, record retention and reporting requirements on all voice providers, including VoIP service providers, subject to certain exceptions. The rules also prohibit VoIP service providers (and other voice providers) from using false audible ringing when originating calls.
Robocalling. The FCC has adopted rules requiring voice providers to implement the industry-adopted STIR/SHAKEN framework in their networks to authenticate caller ID in order to prevent spoofed robocalls from reaching consumers. The new rules require providers to certify compliance with the framework and make compliance checks before accepting certain types of traffic for termination on their network. Compliance with these rules subjects our voice services to greater compliance costs and have increased the cost of providing voice service.
State and Local Taxes
The Internet Tax Freedom Act prohibits most states and localities from imposing taxes on internet access service charges. The FCC's proposal to reclassify broadband internet access service as a telecommunications service could result in some states and localities seeking to impose additional taxes and fees on our data services. Legislative and administrative proceedings in some states and localities have imposed or are considering adopting changes to general business taxes, central assessments for property tax and new taxes and fees applicable to our services. Certain competitors that deliver their services over the internet do not face similar state tax and fee burdens.
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ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS
You should carefully consider all of the information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and each of the risks described below, which we believe are the principal risks that we face. Some risks relate principally to the securities markets and ownership of our common stock.
Any of the following risks could materially and adversely affect our business, financial results, financial condition and results of operations and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in our other public disclosures. In addition, other risks and uncertainties either not presently known or not currently believed to be material may also adversely affect our business, financial results, financial condition and results of operations and the actual outcome of matters as to which we have made forward-looking statements.
Risks Relating to Our Business
We face significant competition from other service providers, as well as other well-capitalized entrants in the video and data services industry, which could reduce our market share and lower our profits.
We operate in a highly competitive, subscriber-driven and rapidly changing industry and compete with a growing number of entities that provide a broad range of communications products, services and content to subscribers. Our competitors have historically included, and we expect will continue to include, telephone companies that offer data and video services through DSL technology or fiber-to-the-node networks, municipalities with fiber-based networks, regional fiber providers and other service providers that have been granted a franchise to operate in a geographic market in which we are already operating.
Our systems generally operate pursuant to franchises, permits and similar authorizations issued by state and local governments. As these franchises are typically non-exclusive, state and local governments can grant additional franchises to other entities and create competition in our markets where none existed previously, resulting in overbuilds. In some cases, the FCC has adopted rules that streamline entry for new competitors (particularly those affiliated with telephone companies) and reduce franchising burdens for these new entrants. As of December 31, 2023, approximately half of our footprint has been overbuilt by wired competitors offering high-speed data services with speeds of 100 Mbps or higher. Further overbuilding could cause more of our customers to purchase data and video services from our competitors instead of from us. We also face increasing competition from wireless telephone companies for residential voice services, as our customers continue to replace our residential voice services with wireless voice services. In addition, new entrants with significant financial resources may compete on a larger scale with our video and data services, and as more wireless voice service providers offer unlimited data options, some customers may choose to forgo our data services altogether. We may also face increasing competition from various providers of wireless internet offerings, including FWA data providers deploying high-speed “5G” wireless networks where they have higher capacity spectrum and public locations or commercial establishments offering Wi-Fi at no cost. Historically, we have focused on retaining customers who are likely to produce higher relative value over the life of their service relationship with us, are less attracted to discounting, require less support and churn less. However, in response to increasing competition in our markets, we are also seeking to supplement our growth by targeting a broader scope of incremental customers, including those who are more value-conscious, through more targeted pricing and product offerings. While these efforts are intended to grow our customer base, they may adversely impact the ARPU and profit margins of our residential data services and lead to increased average churn rates for our residential data customers.
Certain municipalities and cooperatives have also announced plans to construct their own data networks with access speeds that match or exceed ours through the use of fiber-to-the-node or fiber-to-the-premises technology. In some cases, local government entities and municipal utilities may legally compete with us without obtaining a franchise from an LFA, reducing their barriers to entry into our markets. The entrance of more municipalities as competitors in our markets would add to the competition we face and could lead to customer attrition.
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Our video business also faces substantial and increasing competition from other forms of in-home and mobile entertainment, including, among others, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, YouTube TV and an increasing number of new entrants who offer OTT video programming, including many traditional programmers. Because of the significant size and financial resources of many of the companies behind such service offerings, we anticipate that they will continue to invest resources in increasing the availability of video content on the internet, which may result in less demand for the video services we provide. In addition, companies that offer OTT content in certain markets also provide data services, such as Alphabet, and they may seek to increase sales of their streaming content by lowering the cost of data services for their customers, which would further increase price competition for the data services we offer. In addition to creating competition for our video services, OTT content also significantly increases the volume of traffic on our data networks, which can lead to decreases in access speeds for all users if data networks are not upgraded so that their broadband capacity can keep pace with increased traffic.
Competition for dedicated fiber-optic services for enterprise business customers is also intense as both local telephone companies and regional overbuilders offer data and voice services over dedicated fiber connections.
In addition, in recent years, federal and state governments have offered billions of dollars in subsidies to companies deploying broadband to areas deemed to be “unserved” or “underserved,” using funds from the FCC’s RDOF auction in 2020, the ARPA and the Infrastructure Act. In some cases, we are the recipient of these subsidies, and in others, we have opposed or challenged grants of such subsidies to competitors when directed to areas we already serve. Our challenge efforts may not always be successful and efforts to use governmental funds to subsidize the deployment of broadband in areas we already serve could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Any of these events could have a material adverse impact on our operations, business, financial results and financial condition.
Our business is subject to rapid technological change, and if we do not adapt to technological changes and respond appropriately to changes in consumer demand, our competitive position may be harmed. For example, our success may be dependent upon our ability to develop, deploy and operate new technologies, service offerings and customer service platforms.
Our success is, to a large extent, dependent on our ability to acquire, develop, adopt, upgrade and exploit new and existing technologies to address changing consumer demands and distinguish our services from those of our competitors. We may not be able to accurately predict technological trends or the success of new products and services. If we choose technologies or equipment that are less effective, cost-efficient or attractive to our customers than those chosen by our competitors, or if we offer services that fail to appeal to consumers, that are not available at competitive prices or that do not function as expected, or of if we are unable to develop, deploy and operate new technologies, service offerings and customer service platforms, our competitive position could deteriorate and our business and financial results could suffer.
The ability of some of our competitors to introduce new technologies, products and services more quickly than we are able to may adversely affect our competitive position. Furthermore, advances in technology, decreases in the cost of existing technologies or changes in competitors’ product and service offerings may require us in the future to make additional research and development expenditures or to offer at no additional charge or at a lower price certain products and services that we currently offer to customers separately or at a premium.
In addition, we generally seek to leverage overall industry experience before rolling out new technology in order to avoid investing in technology that has not been proven successful in other markets. We implement this approach to avoid costly mistakes made by early adopters of new technology that does not provide expected returns. However, this approach exposes us to the risk that our competitors may adopt successful new technology before us and leverage this new technology to attract our customers, increasing the level of customer attrition we experience and adversely affecting our business.
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Business services sales increasingly contribute to our results of operations, and we face risks as we attempt to further focus on sales to our business customers.
Organic growth in revenue from sales to our business customers has slowed during the past three years as compared to the organic growth rates experienced from 2011 (when we started focusing on business services sales) through 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and the government's associated responses, as well as recent economic conditions, have resulted in suppressed sales growth from small business customers. We may encounter additional challenges as we continue our initiative to expand sales of data, voice and video services to our business customers. To accommodate this expansion, we expect to commit a greater proportion of our expenditures on technology, equipment and personnel toward our business customers in future years. If we are unable to sufficiently maintain the necessary infrastructure and internal support functions necessary to service these customers, potential future growth of our business services revenues would be limited. In many cases, business customers have service level agreements that require us to provide higher standards of service and reliability. If we are unable to meet our service level requirements, or more broadly, the expectations of our business customers, or if economic-related headwinds associated with business sales continue, our business sales may not increase and our results of operations may be materially negatively affected.
The increase in programming costs and retransmission fees may continue in the future, resulting in lower margins and/or decreased demand for our video products.
Over the past few years, the sales margins on our residential video services, which accounted for 15.4%, 19.1% and 21.2% of our total revenues in 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively, have generally decreased as a result of increased programming costs and retransmission fees and customer cord-cutting. Programming costs and retransmission fees paid to major programmers and broadcasters may continue to increase as content providers continue to seek higher fees. Moreover, programming cost and retransmission fee increases have caused us, and may in the future cause us, to cease carrying channels offered by certain programmers and broadcasters, which may result in attrition of video subscribers as well as customers who subscribe to double-play or triple-play packages that include video service. These customer losses and increased costs could result in further decreases in our residential video margins, adversely impact our revenues and revenue growth rates, and adversely impact our business.
We may not be able to obtain necessary hardware, software and operational support.
We depend on a limited number of third-party suppliers and licensors to supply some of the hardware and software necessary to provide some of our services, including our access to the network backbone, the modems we lease to our customers and the delivery of our IPTV video service. Some of these vendors represent our sole source of supply or have, either through contract or as a result of intellectual property rights, a position of some exclusivity. If any of these parties breaches or terminates its agreement with us or otherwise fails to perform its obligations in a timely manner; demand exceeds these vendors’ capacity; they experience operating or financial difficulties (including due to general adverse economic conditions); they experience shortages of electronic components as a result of labor or other supply constraints; they significantly increase the amount we must pay for necessary products or services or they cease production of any necessary product due to lack of demand, profitability, a change in their ownership or otherwise, then our ability to provide some services may be materially adversely affected. Any of these events could adversely affect our ability to retain and attract subscribers and have a material adverse impact on our operations, business, financial results and financial condition.
We may fail to realize the benefits anticipated as a result of the Hargray Acquisition.
On May 3, 2021, we completed the Hargray Acquisition. The success of the Hargray Acquisition will depend, in part, on our ability to realize the anticipated business opportunities and growth prospects from combining Hargray with our business. We may never realize these business opportunities and growth prospects. We may devote significant senior management attention and resources to preparing for and then integrating our business practices and operations with those of Hargray. We may fail to realize some of the anticipated benefits of the Hargray Acquisition or may not realize some of the anticipated benefits within the anticipated timeframe if the integration process takes longer than expected or is more costly than expected.
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We recently made numerous acquisitions and strategic investments, and may make other acquisitions and strategic investments in the future, which expose us to risks and uncertainties associated with acquisitions and strategic investments.
We completed the NewWave acquisition in May 2017, the Clearwave acquisition in January 2019, the Fidelity acquisition in October 2019, the MBI investment in November 2020, the Hargray Acquisition in May 2021, the CableAmerica acquisition in December 2021 and the Clearwave Fiber Contribution in January 2022. In addition, we have made and may make other acquisitions and strategic investments (each such acquired business or investee, a “Strategic Acquiree” and, collectively, the “Strategic Acquirees”). Such acquisitions and strategic investments could involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including:
uncertainties as to the timing of any acquisition or strategic investment and the risk that such transactions may not be completed in a timely manner or at all;
the possibility that any or all of the conditions to the consummation of any acquisition or strategic investment may not be satisfied or waived, including failure to receive any required regulatory approvals (or any conditions, limitations or restrictions placed in connection with such approvals);
uncertainties related to our ability to obtain any necessary financing, or to obtain financing on favorable terms, to complete any acquisition or strategic investment;
the difficulty in integrating new Strategic Acquirees and their operations in an efficient and effective manner;
the challenge in achieving strategic objectives, cost savings and other anticipated benefits;
the potential loss of key associates of a Strategic Acquiree and the difficulties of integrating personnel;
the potential diversion of senior management’s attention from our ongoing operations;
the difficulty of maintaining relationships with the customers, suppliers and other business partners of a Strategic Acquiree;
the potential loss of brand recognition, customer loyalty or reputation from any rebranding efforts;
exposure to litigation or other claims in connection with, or inheritance of claims or litigation risk as a result of, an acquisition, such as claims from terminated employees, customers, former stockholders or other third parties;
the difficulty and amount of time necessary to realize expected synergies and other benefits of the acquisitions or strategic investments;
the risks associated with integrating financial reporting and internal control systems as well as with creating uniform standards, procedures, policies and information systems;
the difficulty in adapting and expanding information technology systems and other business processes to incorporate the Strategic Acquirees;
potential future impairments of goodwill associated with the Strategic Acquirees;
in some cases, the potential for increased regulation;
risks relating to minority ownership positions in our strategic investments, including our initial minority ownership position in MBI, such as our ability to appoint only a minority of members of the board of managers of MBI, the fact that the board of managers of MBI do not owe the same fiduciary duties to us that directors of a corporation would owe to stockholders and the limited category of transactions for which our consent will be needed under MBI’s operating agreement;
risks relating to our strategic investment in Clearwave Fiber, including the fact that the board of managers of Clearwave Fiber do not owe the same fiduciary duties to us that directors of a corporation would owe to stockholders, and we do not control the vote of the Clearwave Fiber board of managers with respect to most significant transactional and operational matters under the terms of Clearwave Fiber's operating agreement; and
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uncertainties related to the exercise of the Call Option or the Put Option (each as defined under "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Financial Condition: Liquidity and Capital Resources – Liquidity" in this Annual Report on Form 10-K) relating to our MBI investment, including, if the Put Option is exercised, the difference between the purchase price under the Put Option and the fair value of the underlying equity interests in MBI at the time the Put Option is exercised and our ability to finance the purchase price of the Put Option on terms acceptable to us or at all.
If a Strategic Acquiree fails to operate as anticipated or cannot be successfully integrated with our existing business, our operations, business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially negatively affected.
Implementation of our new ERP and billing systems could have a material adverse impact on our operations, business, financial results and financial condition.
We implemented a new ERP system in the second quarter of 2021. The implementation has required and may continue to require significant investments of time, money and resources and may result in the diversion of senior management’s attention from our ongoing operations. Furthermore, the implementation has resulted and may continue to result in changes to many of our existing operational, financial and administrative business processes, including, but not limited to, our budgeting, purchasing, receiving, provisioning, servicing, accounting and reporting processes. The new ERP system has required and may continue to require both the implementation of new internal controls and changes to existing internal control frameworks and procedures. If technical problems or other significant issues arise in connection with the implementation or operation of the new ERP system, it could have a material adverse impact on our operations, business, financial results and financial condition.
We are also planning to implement a new billing system beginning in 2024. The implementation will require significant investments of time, money and resources and may result in the diversion of senior management’s attention from our ongoing operations. Furthermore, the implementation will result in changes to many of our existing operational, financial and administrative business processes, including, but not limited to, our provisioning, servicing, billing, accounting and reporting processes. The new billing system will require both the implementation of new internal controls and changes to existing internal control frameworks and procedures. If technical problems or other significant issues arise in connection with the implementation or operation of the new billing system, it could have a material adverse impact on our operations, business, financial results and financial condition.
We rely on network and information systems and other technology, and a disruption or failure of such networks, systems or technology as a result of cybersecurity incidents, as well as outages, natural disasters (including extreme weather), pandemics, terrorist attacks, accidental releases of information or similar events, may disrupt our business.
Network and information systems and other technologies are critical to our operating activities, both internally and in supplying data, video and voice services to customers. Network or information system shutdowns or other service disruptions caused by cyber-attacks, such as distributed denial of service attacks, ransomware, dissemination of malware and other malicious activity, pose increasing risks. Both unsuccessful and successful cyber-attacks on companies, including ours, have continued to increase in frequency, scope and potential harm in recent years and, because the techniques used in such attacks have become more sophisticated and change frequently, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventative measures. From time to time, third parties make malicious attempts to access our network or the networks of third-party vendors we use. Cyber-attacks could result in an unauthorized release of information, degradation to our network and information systems or disruption to our data, video and voice services, all of which could adversely affect our reputation and results of operations.
Our network and information systems are also vulnerable to damage or interruption from power outages, natural disasters (including extreme weather arising from short-term weather patterns or more severe and/or frequent weather events that could arise as a result of long-term climate change), pandemics, terrorist attacks and similar events, and the individuals responsible for such systems may also be imperiled by certain such events. For example, prior to 2018, the damage to our network infrastructure caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina and the Joplin, Missouri tornado each created a significant disruption in our ability to provide services in affected areas. Any similar events could have an adverse impact on us and our customers in the future, including degradation of service, service disruption, excessive call volume to call centers and damage to our plant, equipment, data and reputation. Such an event also could result in large expenditures necessary to repair or replace such networks or information systems or to protect them from similar events or damage in the future. Further, the impacts associated with extreme weather, such as intensified storm activity, may cause increased business interruptions.
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Security breaches and other disruptions, including cyber-attacks, and our actual or perceived failure to adequately protect business and consumer data could give rise to liability or reputational harm.
In the ordinary course of our business, we electronically maintain confidential, proprietary and personal information in our information technology systems and networks and those of third-party vendors, including customer, personnel and vendor data. These systems have been, and may continue to be, targets of attack by cyber criminals or other wrongdoers seeking to steal such information for financial gain or to harm our business operations or reputation. The loss, misuse, compromise, leakage, falsification or accidental release of such information has resulted, and may in the future result, in costly investigations, remediation efforts and notification to affected consumers, personnel and/or vendors. For example, in 2019 we identified an information security incident that could have affected the personal information of some of our current and former associates as well as, in some cases, their dependents, beneficiaries and others. Cyber-attacks have consumed, and may in the future consume, internal resources, and they could also adversely affect our operating results and result in government investigations, fines and penalties, litigation or potential liability for us and otherwise harm our business.
Various federal, state and international laws and regulations govern the collection, use, retention, sharing and security of consumer data and sensitive personal information that could be used to commit identity theft. This area of the law is evolving, and interpretations of applicable laws and regulations differ. Legislative and regulatory activity in the privacy area may result in new laws that are relevant to our operations, for example, use of consumer data for marketing or advertising. Claims of failure to comply with our privacy policies or applicable laws or regulations could form the basis of governmental or private-party actions against us. Such claims and actions may cause damage to our reputation and could have an adverse effect on our business.
We are also subject to stringent data security and data retention requirements that apply to website operators and online services directed to children under 13 years of age, or that knowingly collect or post personal information from children under 13 years of age. Other privacy-oriented laws have been extended by courts to online video providers and are increasingly being used in privacy lawsuits, including class actions, against providers of video materials online. Most states have security breach notification laws that generally require a business to give notice to consumers and government agencies when certain information has been disclosed due to a security breach, and the FCC has adopted security breach rules for voice services. Several states have also enacted general data security requirements to safeguard consumer information, including the proper disposal of consumer information. We cannot predict whether, when or to what extent these obligations may impose costs on or otherwise adversely affect our business.
Intellectual property and proprietary rights of others could prevent us from using necessary technology to provide our services or subject us to expensive intellectual property litigation.
We periodically receive claims from third parties alleging that our network and information technology infrastructure infringes the intellectual property rights of others. We are sometimes named as joint defendants in these suits together with other providers of data, video and voice services. Typically, these claims allege that aspects of our system architecture, electronic program guides, modem technology or VoIP services infringe on process patents held by third parties. It is likely that we will continue to be subject to similar claims as they relate to our business. Addressing these claims is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, regardless of the merits of the claims. In order to resolve such a claim, we could determine the need to change our method of doing business, enter into a licensing agreement or incur substantial monetary liability. It is also possible that our business could be enjoined from using the intellectual property at issue, causing us to significantly alter our operations. If any such claims are successful, then the outcome would likely affect our services utilizing the intellectual property at issue and could have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
Risks Relating to Regulation and Legislation
The profitability of our data service offerings may be impacted by legislative or regulatory efforts to impose net neutrality and other new requirements on cable operators.
The majority of our Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures comes from residential data services, and a majority of our residential customers are data-only. We have aligned our resources to emphasize increased sales of data services as well as sales to business customers. In order to continue to generate Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures at our desired level from data services, we need the continued flexibility to develop and refine business models that respond to changing consumer uses and demands and to manage data usage efficiently, including the option of charging our data subscribers higher rates based on the speed as well as overall bandwidth capacity available to, or used by, them, referred to as “usage-based billing.” Our ability to implement usage-based billing or other network management initiatives in the future may be restricted by regulations attached to new government funding programs or any new net neutrality requirements on cable operators.
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To the extent the FCC in the future limits our ability to price our data services, we may not be able to generate the margins on our data services that we anticipated in shifting our focus from video to data services, and our business could see a materially negative impact. In July 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy that encouraged the FCC to consider adopting net neutrality rules similar to those originally adopted in 2015. In October 2023, the FCC initiated a new rulemaking proceeding, which proposes to reclassify broadband internet access service as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act and to impose certain requirements on broadband internet access service providers intended to safeguard the open internet, advance national security, and protect public safety. The FCC also proposed certain conduct rules for providers, but proposed to forbear from application of other rules typically imposed on Title II services. Comments on the FCC’s proposals were filed in December 2023 and January 2024. We cannot predict whether or when the FCC will act on its proposals. Any such action by the FCC likely would be subject to further judicial review. Further numerous states, including Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri (where we have subscribers) have proposed administrative actions and/or legislation in the past or are currently considering actions, which could lead to increased regulation of our provision of data services. Several states, including Oregon and Washington (where we also have subscribers), have adopted legislation that requires entities providing broadband internet access service in the state to comply with net neutrality requirements or that prohibits state and local government agencies from contracting with internet service providers that engage in certain network management activities based on paid prioritization, content blocking or other discrimination. The FCC is reviewing the extent to which states may continue to impose regulations on broadband internet access services if the FCC’s proposals are adopted. We cannot predict whether or to what extent state requirements will be applied to our data services in the future. Further, current rules only require that a portion of revenues from VoIP services be contributed to the USF and USF is not applied to broadband services. The changes brought about by how USF monies are distributed may provide funding and subsidies to those who either compete with us or seek to compete with us and therefore put us at a competitive disadvantage. Moreover, if the FCC imposes USF fees on broadband services, bundled services or a larger portion of VoIP services, it would increase the cost of our services and harm our ability to compete.
In November 2023, the FCC adopted rules prohibiting broadband internet access service providers from adopting, implementing, or utilizing policies or practices, not justified by genuine issues of technical or economic feasibility, that differentially impact consumers' access to broadband internet access service based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin or are intended to have such differential impact, and established a complaint process. These new rules will take effect in March 2024 or later. Compliance with these obligations could cause us to incur additional compliance costs, and the enforcement or interpretation of these new obligations could adversely impact our business. We cannot predict whether or to what extent these changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
The regulation of broadband activities, including the net neutrality, non-discrimination and other obligations described above or under "Business – Regulation and Legislation – Broadband Internet Access Services," and any related court decisions could cause us to incur additional compliance costs, restrict our ability to profit from our existing broadband network, limit the return we can expect to achieve on past and future investments in our broadband networks and adversely affect our business. We cannot predict what, if any, proposals might be adopted or what effect they might have on our business.
Our video and voice services are subject to additional regulation by federal, state and local authorities, which may impose additional costs and restrictions on our businesses.
Our video services business operates in a highly regulated environment. Our systems generally operate pursuant to franchises, permits and similar authorizations issued by states or local governments controlling the public rights-of-way, which typically are non-exclusive and limited in time, contain various conditions and limitations and provide for the payment of fees to a local authority, determined generally as a percentage of revenues. Failure to comply with all of the terms and conditions of a franchise may give rise to rights of termination by the franchising authority.
We have the ability, pursuant to the Copyright Act, under certain terms and conditions and assuming that any applicable retransmission consents have been obtained, to retransmit the signals of television stations pursuant to a compulsory copyright license. From time to time, revisions to the cable compulsory copyright rules are considered. It is possible that changes in the rules or copyright compulsory license fee computations or compliance procedures could have an adverse effect on our business by, for example, increasing copyright compulsory license fee costs or by causing us to reduce or discontinue carriage of certain broadcast signals that we currently carry on a discretionary basis. Copyright clearances for non-broadcast programming services are arranged through private negotiations. Cable operators also must obtain music rights for locally originated programming and advertising from the major music performing rights organizations. These licensing fees have been the source of litigation in the past, and we cannot predict with certainty whether license fee disputes may arise in the future.
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In addition, Congress, the FCC and other government agencies have implemented regulations that affect the types of set-top boxes that we can lease or deploy to our subscribers, and we expect these regulations may change in the future. The imposition of energy conservation regulations on the hardware products we provide to our customers could impede innovation and require mandatory upgrades in our set-top boxes and be costly to us. In addition, the FCC may revisit adopting rules requiring any retail video device to work on any cable operator’s system. Various parties continue to advocate to Congress and the administrative agencies for new regulatory approaches to reduce consumer dependency on traditional operator-provided set-top boxes. We cannot predict when, whether or to what extent any of these types of proposals will be adopted or how they will affect our operations.
Our telecommunications services are subject to heightened regulatory scrutiny, and our interconnected VoIP services are also subject to a growing degree of regulation. Complying with these regulations may increase the costs we incur and decrease the revenues we derive from our voice business. While the compliance costs associated with the current regulatory structure applicable to our voice services are manageable, changes in this regulatory structure are unpredictable and have the potential to further negatively impact our voice services by increasing compliance costs and/or taxes.
Our cable system franchises are subject to non-renewal or termination. The failure to renew a franchise in one or more markets could adversely affect our business.
Many of the LFAs from whom we have obtained franchises, permits and similar authorizations required to operate our video services business have established comprehensive facilities and service requirements as well as specific customer service standards and monetary penalties for non-compliance. In many cases, our franchises are terminable if we fail to comply with significant provisions set forth in the applicable franchise agreement governing our video operations. Franchises are generally granted for fixed terms and must be periodically renewed. LFAs may resist granting a renewal if either past performance or the prospective operating proposal is considered inadequate. LFAs often demand concessions or other commitments as a condition to renewal. The traditional cable franchising regime has undergone significant change as a result of various federal and state actions. Some state franchising laws do not allow us to immediately opt into favorable statewide franchising. In many cases, state franchising laws will result in fewer franchise-imposed requirements for our competitors who are new entrants than for us, until we are able to opt into the applicable state franchise. We cannot assure that we will be able to comply with all significant provisions of our franchise agreements and certain of our franchisers have from time to time alleged that we have not complied with these agreements. Additionally, although historically we have renewed our franchises without incurring significant costs, we cannot assure that we will be able to renew, or to renew as favorably, our franchises in the future. A termination of or a sustained failure to renew a franchise in one or more markets could materially negatively affect our business in the affected geographic area.
In addition, certain of our franchise agreements require that the applicable LFA approve a transfer of control of the Company or an assignment of a franchise to another entity. Although FCC rules provide that a transfer application shall be deemed granted if not acted upon within 120 days after submission, as a practical matter, cable operators often waive the deadline if the LFA has not completed its review to facilitate discussions and thereby avoid an LFA denying the transfer of control. Failure to obtain such consents on commercially reasonable and satisfactory terms may impair our entitlement to the benefit of these franchise agreements in the event of a potential transfer of control of the Company or transfers of individual franchises to another entity.
We may encounter increased pole attachment costs.
Federal law requires most telephone companies and electric power utilities owning utility poles to provide cable systems with access to poles and underground conduits at reasonable rates. The FCC’s pole attachment rules contain a formula for calculating pole rental rates that provide for similar rates for telecommunications attachments and cable attachments and prohibit utility companies from charging higher rates for pole attachments used to provide broadband internet access service. The FCC has also adopted rules to facilitate new attachments, including a one-touch make-ready procedure for new attachments and rules intended to facilitate the rapid deployment of broadband services. The FCC’s rules do not apply in states that have chosen to adopt their own pole attachment rules, which may make it more difficult to obtain access to poles in those states. As a general matter, changes to our pole attachment rate structure could significantly increase our annual pole attachment costs and materially negatively impact our operations, business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Changes in broadcast carriage regulations could impose significant additional costs.
Although we would likely choose to carry all primary video feeds of local broadcast stations in the markets in which we operate voluntarily, so-called “must carry” rules could require us to carry some local broadcast television signals on some of our systems that we might not otherwise carry. If the FCC seeks to revise or expand the “must carry” rules, such as to require carriage of multicast streams, we would be forced to carry video programming that we would not otherwise carry and potentially drop other, more popular programming in order to free capacity for the required programming, which could make us less competitive. Moreover, if the FCC adopts rules that are not competitively neutral, cable operators could be placed at a disadvantage versus other video providers.
The FCC took steps in 2017 to relax its media ownership rules, including restrictions on the number of commonly owned television stations per market as well as on newspaper/broadcast and radio/television station cross-ownership. After numerous court proceedings, the FCC’s rules were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2021. These changes relaxing media ownership rules will likely lead to increased consolidation of the television broadcast stations and station groups, with a corresponding increase in the negotiating leverage that broadcasters and station groups hold in retransmission consent negotiations, thereby possibly increasing the amounts we pay to broadcasters for retransmission consent. The FCC recently concluded its regular review of its media ownership rules in which it retained the existing rules and adopted minor modifications to better tailor the rules to the current media marketplace. The FCC's action likely will be subject to further judicial review. We cannot predict the outcome of future reviews by the FCC and any subsequent review by the courts, and whether or to what extent any further revisions of the rules by the FCC or the courts may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
Additional government-mandated broadcast carriage obligations, including those related to the FCC’s enhanced technical broadcasting option (Advanced Television Systems Committee 3.0), could disrupt existing programming commitments and increase our costs of carrying such programming. Our costs also could increase if the FCC requires us to refund subscribers affected by programming blackouts due to retransmission consent negotiations.
Changes in or elimination of the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program could affect the profitability of our data services.
The market for our data services could be affected by consumer participation in and the general availability of the FCC’s ACP, which offers federal subsidies to certain low-income consumers for the purchase of internet access service. We have participated in the ACP (and the predecessor EBB program) since 2021. The FCC regulates the terms on which we provide ACP services, including restrictions on our ability to refuse service to prospective eligible customers based upon their credit or payment history. We also are subject to compliance obligations in connection with our participation in ACP. At this time, only a relatively small percentage of our customers receive ACP services, however, that number could grow. We cannot predict the extent to which eligible households will opt to use their ACP benefit towards our data services. Further, the funding for the ACP authorized under the Infrastructure Act is expected to be depleted by April 2024, although Congress recently introduced a bill to extend the funding. In the light of the projected end of the ACP, the program is no longer open to new enrollees effective February 8, 2024, and the FCC projects April 2024 will be the last month providers will be eligible to receive full reimbursement for discounts passed through to ACP households. We cannot predict whether Congress will provide additional funding to extend the ACP. Termination of the program could affect the profitability of our residential data services and also result in the loss of residential data customers. We also cannot predict whether or when any future changes to the ACP may occur, or whether or to what extent those changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
Risks Relating to Our Indebtedness
We have incurred substantial indebtedness, including in connection with various acquisitions, and the degree to which we are now leveraged may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations and cash flows.
We currently have a substantial amount of indebtedness which could limit our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, strategic investments, our obligations under the Call Option or the Put Option relating to our investment in MBI (as described under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Result of Operations – Financial Condition: Liquidity and Capital Resources – Liquidity”), debt service requirements, stock repurchases or other purposes. It may also increase our vulnerability to adverse economic, market and industry conditions, limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business operations or to our industry overall, and place us at a disadvantage in relation to our competitors that have lower debt levels.
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Our ability to make payments on and to refinance our indebtedness, including the debt incurred in connection with acquisitions, as well as any future debt that we may incur, will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future from operations, financings or asset sales. Our ability to generate cash is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors, some of which are beyond our control.
The terms of our indebtedness restrict our current and future operations, particularly our ability to incur debt that we may need to fund initiatives in response to changes in our business, the industries in which we operate, the economy and governmental regulations.
The terms of our indebtedness include a number of restrictive covenants that impose significant operating and financial restrictions on us and limit our ability to engage in actions that may be in our long-term best interests. These may restrict our ability to take some or all of the following actions:
incur or guarantee additional indebtedness or sell disqualified or preferred stock;
pay dividends on, make distributions in respect of, repurchase or redeem, capital stock;
make acquisitions or investments;
sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of certain assets;
create or allow to exist liens;
enter into sale/leaseback transactions;
enter into agreements restricting the ability to pay dividends or make other intercompany transfers;
consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of our or our subsidiaries’ assets;
enter into transactions with affiliates;
prepay, repurchase or redeem certain kinds of indebtedness;
issue or sell stock of our subsidiaries; and/or
significantly change the nature of our business.
As a result of all of these restrictions, we may be:
limited in how we conduct our business and pursue our strategy;
unable to raise additional debt financing to operate during general economic or business downturns; and/or
unable to compete effectively or to take advantage of new business opportunities, including acquisitions and strategic investments.
A breach of any of these covenants, if applicable, could result in an event of default under the terms of our indebtedness. If an event of default occurs, the lenders would have the right to accelerate the repayment of such debt and the event of default or acceleration may result in the acceleration of the repayment of any other of our debt to which a cross-default or cross-acceleration provision applies. Furthermore, we have pledged our assets as collateral for our repayment obligations under a portion of our indebtedness. If we were unable to repay any amount of this indebtedness when due and payable, the lenders of this indebtedness could proceed against the collateral that secures this indebtedness. In the event our creditors accelerate the repayment of our borrowings, we may not have sufficient assets to repay such indebtedness and our financial condition will be materially negatively affected.
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We have variable rate indebtedness that subjects us to interest rate risk, which could cause our debt service obligations to increase significantly.
As of December 31, 2023, we had approximately $1.8 billion of outstanding term loans and an additional $338.0 million of revolving credit borrowings under the New Credit Agreement (as defined elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K). The loans outstanding under the New Credit Agreement accrue interest at a variable rate and as a result expose us to interest rate risks. If interest rates continue to increase, our debt service obligations on the variable rate indebtedness would increase even though the amount borrowed remains the same, and our net income and cash flows will correspondingly decrease.
In addition, we will be exposed to the risk of rising interest rates to the extent that we fund our operations with additional short-term or variable-rate borrowings. We have entered into and in the future may enter into additional interest rate swaps in order to hedge against future interest rate volatility. We may elect not to maintain such interest rate swaps with respect to our variable rate indebtedness, if any, and any swaps we have entered into or may enter into may not fully mitigate our interest rate risk. As a result, our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially negatively affected.
Our inability to raise funds necessary to repurchase, or settle conversions of, either series of our convertible notes upon a fundamental change as described in the applicable indenture, may lead to defaults under such indenture and under agreements governing our existing or future indebtedness.
If we repurchase the Convertible Notes (as defined elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K) for cash, which holders may require upon a fundamental change as described in the applicable Convertible Note Indenture (as defined elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K), or settle such Convertible Notes by cash or by a combination of cash and shares of our common stock in the event a holder elects to convert their Convertible Notes following a fundamental change, we will be required to make cash payments with respect to the Convertible Notes being converted or repurchased.
However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make purchases of the Convertible Notes being surrendered or converted. In addition, our ability to repurchase the Convertible Notes or to pay cash upon conversion of Convertible Notes is limited by the agreements governing our existing indebtedness and may also be limited by law, by regulatory authority or by agreements that will govern our future indebtedness. Our failure to repurchase Convertible Notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the applicable Convertible Notes Indenture or to pay cash payable on future conversions of the Convertible Notes as required by such indenture would constitute a default under such indenture. A default under the applicable Convertible Notes Indenture or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our existing or future indebtedness (including the New Credit Agreement and the Senior Notes Indenture, each as defined elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K).
The conditional conversion feature of either series of the Convertible Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
In the event the conditional conversion feature of either series of the Convertible Notes is triggered, holders of the applicable Convertible Notes will be entitled to convert such Convertible Notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their Convertible Notes, we may initially elect to satisfy our conversion obligations by combination settlement. In addition, in the future, we may elect to settle all of our conversion obligations through the payment of cash, which could adversely affect our liquidity. In addition, even if holders do not elect to convert the Convertible Notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the Convertible Notes as a current liability, rather than a long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.
Conversion of either series of the Convertible Notes will dilute the ownership interest of existing stockholders or may otherwise depress the price of our common stock.
The conversion of some or all of the Convertible Notes will dilute the ownership interests of existing stockholders to the extent we deliver shares of our common stock upon conversion of any of the Convertible Notes. The Convertible Notes may from time to time in the future be convertible at the option of their holders prior to their scheduled terms under certain circumstances. Any sales in the public market of the common stock issuable upon such conversion could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock. In addition, the existence of the Convertible Notes may encourage short selling by market participants because the conversion of the Convertible Notes could be used to satisfy short positions or anticipated conversion of the Convertible Notes into shares of our common stock could depress the price of our common stock.
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Risks Relating to Our Common Stock and the Securities Market
We cannot assure you that we will continue to pay dividends on our common stock, and our indebtedness limits our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.
The timing, declaration, amount and payment of future dividends to stockholders falls within the discretion of our Board. Our Board’s decisions regarding the amount and payment of future dividends will depend on many factors, including our financial condition, earnings, capital requirements of our business and covenants associated with debt obligations, as well as legal requirements, regulatory constraints, industry practice and other factors that our Board deems relevant. There can be no assurance that we will continue to pay any dividend in the future.
Certain provisions in our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation and Amended and Restated By-laws and Delaware law may discourage takeovers and the concentration of ownership of our common stock will affect the voting results of matters submitted for stockholder approval.
Several provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, Amended and Restated By-laws and Delaware law may discourage, delay or prevent a merger or acquisition that is opposed by our Board or certain stockholders holding a significant percentage of the voting power of our outstanding voting stock. These include provisions that:
do not permit our stockholders to act by written consent and require that stockholder action must take place at an annual or special meeting of our stockholders;
provide that only our Chief Executive Officer and a majority of our directors, and not our stockholders, may call a special meeting of our stockholders;
require the approval of our Board or the affirmative vote of stockholders holding a majority of the voting power of our capital stock to amend our Amended and Restated By-laws; and
limit our ability to enter into business combination transactions with certain stockholders.
These and other provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, Amended and Restated By-laws and Delaware law may discourage, delay or prevent certain types of transactions involving an actual or a threatened acquisition or change in control of the Company, including unsolicited takeover attempts, even though the transaction may offer our stockholders the opportunity to sell their shares of our common stock at a price above the prevailing market price.
Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, associates or stockholders.
Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation provides that, subject to limited exceptions, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for any (i) derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company, (ii) action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or associate of the Company to the Company or the Company’s stockholders, (iii) action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”) or (iv) action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring or holding any interest in shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation described above. This choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other associates, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and associates. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
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General Risk Factors
Adverse conditions in the U.S. economy could impact our results of operations.
Unfavorable general economic conditions, such as a recession or economic slowdown in the United States, heightened inflation, increased unemployment levels and higher interest rates, could negatively affect the affordability of and demand for some of our products and services. In difficult economic conditions, consumers may seek to reduce discretionary spending by forgoing purchases of our products and services, electing to use fewer higher margin products and services or obtaining lower cost products and services offered by other companies. Similarly, under these conditions the business customers that we serve may delay purchasing decisions, delay full implementation of service offerings or reduce their use of services. Also, our ability to gain new customers is to a certain extent dependent on the pace of households moving residences and new housing construction within our markets, which are influenced by both national and local economic conditions. In addition, adverse economic conditions may lead to an increased number of our residential and business customers becoming unable to pay for services. If any of these events were to occur, it could have a material negative effect on our operations, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Pandemics, epidemics or disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have, and may in the future, disrupt our business and operations, which could materially affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
The occurrence of pandemics, epidemics or disease outbreaks, including the reemergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in severity, could materially affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including due to negative impacts on the global economy, disruptions to global supply chains and workforce participation, and volatility and disruption of financial markets. For example, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic initially caused us to modify our operations, including, among other things, restricting our technicians from entering customer homes and businesses; closing or limiting access to local offices and our corporate headquarters for associates, customers and others; instituting an expanded work-from-home program, including enhancing our technological capabilities to support such efforts; and implementing several compensation related enhancements, which resulted in higher labor costs and other operating expenses. Additionally, we temporarily suspended data overage fees, late charges and reconnect fees. If a new pandemic, epidemic or disease outbreak were to occur, we could experience broad and varied impacts similar to the impact of COVID-19.
The demand for our residential data and business services products may be lower than we expect.
The future growth in demand for our services is difficult to predict and may differ materially from our current expectations. Our business could be adversely affected if the future demand for our services, including in particular our residential data and business services, is materially lower than we expect.
Our stock price may fluctuate significantly, depending on many factors, some of which may be beyond our control.
The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly, depending on many factors, some of which may be beyond our control, including:
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results due to factors related to our business;
success or failure of our business strategies;
our quarterly or annual earnings, or those of other companies in our industry;
our ability to obtain financing as needed;
announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, dispositions or strategic investments;
changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations or principles;
the failure of securities analysts to cover, or maintain coverage of, our common stock;
changes in earnings estimates by securities analysts or our ability to meet those estimates;
the operating and stock price performance of other comparable companies;
investor perception of the Company and our industry;
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overall market fluctuations;
results from any material litigation or government investigation;
changes in laws and regulations (including tax laws and regulations) affecting our business;
changes in capital gains taxes and taxes on dividends affecting stockholders; and
general economic conditions and other external factors.
Low trading volume for our stock, which may occur if an active trading market is not sustained, among other reasons, would amplify the effect of the above factors on our stock price volatility.
Stock markets in general can experience volatility that is unrelated to the operating performance of a particular company. These broad market fluctuations could adversely affect the trading price of our common stock.
Your percentage ownership in the Company may be diluted in the future.
Your percentage ownership in the Company may be diluted in the future because of equity awards granted, and that we expect to grant in the future, to our directors, officers and other associates. In addition, we may issue equity as all or part of the financing or consideration paid for acquisitions and strategic investments that we may make in the future or as necessary to fund our ongoing operations. We also had $920.0 million of Convertible Notes outstanding as of December 31, 2023 that may further dilute your percentage ownership in the Company in the future if such Convertible Notes are converted.
Any damage to our reputation or brand image could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Maintaining a positive reputation and brand image are important factors impacting our ability to sell our products and services. The speed at which negative publicity is disseminated has increased dramatically through social media, websites and blogs. Our success in maintaining a positive brand image depends on our ability to adapt to this rapidly changing media environment. Adverse publicity or negative commentary in any media outlet could damage our reputation and reduce the demand for our products and services, which would adversely affect our business. Our reputation or brand image could be adversely impacted by negative publicity, commentary or communications (whether or not valid), including related to the following topics: our failure to maintain high ethical and social practices in all of our operations and activities; our failure to be perceived as appropriately addressing matters of social responsibility; our use of social media; or public perception of statements or positions made or taken by us, including our executives and associates.
If we are unable to retain key associates, our ability to manage our business could be adversely affected.
Our operational results have depended, and our future results will depend, upon the retention and continued performance of our management team. The competitive environment for management talent in the broadband communications industry could adversely impact our ability to retain and hire new key associates for management positions. The loss of the services of key members of management and the inability or delay in hiring new key associates could adversely affect our ability to manage our business and our future operational and financial results.
Our ability to incur future indebtedness, whether for general corporate purposes or for acquisitions and strategic investments, may not be available on favorable terms, or at all.
We may need to seek additional financing for our general corporate purposes or for acquisitions and strategic investments in the future, including our obligations under the Call Option or the Put Option relating to our investment in MBI (as described under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Result of Operations – Financial Condition: Liquidity and Capital Resources – Liquidity”). We may be unable to obtain additional indebtedness on terms favorable to us, or at all, including because of the terms of our current indebtedness. If adequate funds are not available on acceptable terms, we may be unable to fund our future activities, which could negatively affect our business. If we raise additional funds by issuing debt, we may be subject to limitations on our operations due to restrictive covenants. Additionally, if we issue any debt securities in the future that are convertible into shares of our common stock, our existing stockholders could suffer significant dilution upon conversion of such convertible debt securities.
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Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation includes provisions limiting the personal liability of our directors for breaches of fiduciary duty under the DGCL.
Our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation contains a provision permitted under the DGCL relating to the liability of directors. This provision eliminates a director’s personal liability to the fullest extent permitted by the DGCL for monetary damages resulting from a breach of fiduciary duty; provided that such provision will not eliminate or limit a director’s liability:
for any breach of the director’s duty of loyalty;
for acts or omissions not in good faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law;
under Section 174 of the DGCL (including for unlawful dividends); or
for any transaction from which the director derives an improper personal benefit.
The principal effect of the limitation on liability provision is that a stockholder will be unable to prosecute an action for monetary damages against a director unless the stockholder can demonstrate a basis for liability for which indemnification is not available under the DGCL. This provision, however, should not limit or eliminate our rights or any stockholder’s rights to seek non-monetary relief, such as an injunction or rescission, in the event of a breach of a director’s fiduciary duty. This provision will not alter a director’s liability under federal securities laws. The inclusion of this provision in our Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation may discourage or deter stockholders or management from bringing a lawsuit against directors for a breach of their fiduciary duties, even though such an action, if successful, might otherwise have benefited us and our stockholders.
ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
None.
ITEM 1C.     CYBERSECURITY
Cybersecurity Risk Management and Strategy
We employ a layered security approach leveraging people, process and technology — structuring our cybersecurity program to align with the National Institute of Standards and Technology ("NIST") Cybersecurity Framework ("CSF"). We also intend that our cybersecurity program aligns with applicable laws and regulatory requirements. Our program and the related controls we employ are designed to identify and assess risk with the aim of preventing, detecting or mitigating cybersecurity risks to avoid material harm to our business, customers, associates and other stakeholders.
Our program addresses physical threats caused by infrastructure failures, logical threats caused by threat-actors and viruses, as well as other threats we identify by auditing our operations. We conduct annual assessments of our internal control over financial reporting as required for compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Additionally, we conduct annual self-assessments and annual third-party penetration testing of our cybersecurity controls such as for compliance with Payment Card Industry ("PCI") standards, and otherwise where applicable. Our cybersecurity team also monitors supply chain and third-party cybersecurity risks to minimize the likelihood of business disruption, as well as conducts annual incident response plan rehearsals and risk assessments based on NIST standards, including the CSF.
We have a dedicated internal cybersecurity team that maintains our readiness and security posture by overseeing our cybersecurity program’s information security policies and standards. In doing so, our cybersecurity team works with independent external cybersecurity advisors to develop appropriate standards to identify, assess, mitigate and remediate material cyber risks and issues. For example, PCI standards include quarterly external vulnerability scans that are conducted by a vendor approved by the PCI security standards council. Further, as part of our annual risk assessment controls, we obtain and review the SSAE (SOC-1 Type 2) reports of our key third-party service providers. The annual assessment includes consideration of materiality, identification and prioritization of financial reporting elements ("FREs") using quantitative and qualitative risk factors (including fraud risk), and identification of business processes and information technology systems linked to FREs. The reports are reviewed to identify and evaluate subservice providers, key reports, exceptions and complementary user entity controls and determines the appropriate response on any identified concerns.
We also incorporate intelligence sharing about emerging threats through collaboration with other companies in our industry, consultants and public-private partnerships with government intelligence agencies, such as the Arizona Cyber Threat Response Alliance ("ACTRA") and The Internet and Television Association ("NCTA").
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As part of our cybersecurity program, we provide regular training on our information security policies and standards to help further prevent, detect and mitigate cybersecurity risks. We require mandatory cybersecurity, privacy and information handling training for all new associates upon onboarding and annually thereafter for all associates. We also conduct regular training throughout the year for our associates, as well as third-party contractors, on cybersecurity topics. We conduct training on phishing, social engineering and general cybersecurity awareness. To validate the effectiveness of our training, simulated phishing campaigns are conducted periodically for all associates. Additionally, third party software vendors and service providers who have access to our data or systems are obligated to adhere to our information security policies and standards as part of their service agreements.
Cybersecurity Governance
Our Board of Directors (the “Board”) employs a principles-based approach to identify and monitor the myriad of risks impacting the Company, including cybersecurity risks. The executive leadership team monitors our risk environment, including attempting to identify potential unknown risks, and regularly reports on such matters to our Board or committees thereof. We have an enterprise risk management ("ERM") program designed to identify, assess, prioritize, manage and mitigate major risk exposures that could affect our ability to execute on our corporate strategy and fulfill our business objectives. Our ERM program is administered by a risk council made up of members of senior management supported by subject matter experts within our organization. The Board fulfills certain risk oversight functions through its standing committees. Representatives of the risk council report to the Audit Committee on risk exposure, management and tolerance, and related matters. The Audit Committee oversees the risks related to the integrity of the Company’s financial statements and receives an ERM report at least annually. Further, the Company’s Disclosure Controls Committee reports directly to the Audit Committee on certain matters relating to our public disclosures. Our Nominating and Governance Committee has the responsibility of periodically monitoring, reviewing and discussing with management the Company’s cybersecurity preparedness, vulnerabilities, defenses and planned responses, including related risk management programs and practices.
As discussed above, our cybersecurity team oversees information security, cyber and technology risk and IT compliance. As of December 31, 2023, our cybersecurity team consisted of 13 associates with an average of approximately 14 years of cybersecurity experience, all of whom hold college degrees, including three that hold a master’s degree (two of which are in the field of information security), along with 52 professional certifications in aggregate. Our cybersecurity team is led by a Senior Director of Cybersecurity, who reports through one of our Vice Presidents to our Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, who is a member of the executive team.
At least quarterly, our cybersecurity team provides a report to our Nominating and Governance Committee and, at least annually, to the full Board regarding our technology and cybersecurity risk profile, programs and key initiatives, including the maturity of our cybersecurity framework and how we compare to selected industry benchmarks.
Our risk oversight activities, including those related to cybersecurity, are supported by internal reporting structures. These structures include protocols in the event of an incident, including the escalation by the cybersecurity team through its reporting structure to the executive team, our Disclosure Controls Committee, our risk council made up of members of our senior management supported by subject matter experts within our organization that administers our ERM program, our Nominating and Governance Committee and the Board, depending on the level of the threat or incident.
For additional information regarding how cybersecurity threats are reasonably likely to materially affect our business strategy, results of operations or financial condition, see "Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Business — We rely on network and information systems and other technology, and a disruption or failure of such networks, systems or technology as a result of cybersecurity incidents, as well as outages, natural disasters (including extreme weather), pandemics, terrorist attacks, accidental releases of information or similar events, may disrupt our business" and "Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Business — Security breaches and other disruptions, including cyber-attacks, and our actual or perceived failure to adequately protect business and consumer data could give rise to liability or reputational harm."
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ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES
Our headquarters is located in Phoenix, Arizona. The majority of the offices and headend facilities of our individual systems are located in buildings owned by us.
Our principal physical assets consist of our broadband plant and equipment, including signal receiving, encoding and decoding devices, headend facilities, fiber-optic transport and distribution networks and customer premise equipment for each of our systems. Our broadband plant and related equipment generally attach to utility poles under pole rental agreements with local public utilities and telephone companies, although in certain areas our transport and distribution network is buried in underground ducts or trenches. We own or lease real property for signal reception sites and own most of our service vehicles.
The physical components of our broadband network require maintenance and periodic upgrades to improve performance and capacity and support existing and new services and products. We also operate a network operations center that monitors our network at all times.
We believe that our properties are generally in good condition and are suitable and adequate to support our operations.
ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
In the ordinary course of business, we periodically receive claims from third parties alleging that our network and information technology infrastructure infringes the intellectual property rights of others. We have sometimes been named as joint defendants in these suits together with other providers of data, video and voice services. Typically, these claims allege that aspects of our system architecture, electronic program guides, modem technology or VoIP services infringe on process patents held by third parties. In addition, we have been subject to various civil lawsuits in the ordinary course of business, including contract disputes, actions alleging negligence, invasion of privacy, violations of applicable wage and hour laws and statutory and common law claims involving various other matters. We do not view any of these proceedings as material to our business and are currently not subject to any other material legal proceedings.
ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.
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PART II
ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market Information
Our common stock is publicly traded under the ticker symbol “CABO” on the New York Stock Exchange.
Holders
As of February 16, 2024, there were approximately 750 holders of record of our common stock.
Dividends
We currently expect to continue to pay comparable quarterly cash dividends on shares of our common stock, subject to approval of the Board.
Performance Graph
The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return of our common stock between December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2023 with the cumulative total returns of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index and a custom peer group index (the “Peer Group”). For purposes of this graph, it assumes a hypothetical $100 investment on December 31, 2018 and that dividends, if any, were reinvested. The Peer Group of data, video and voice services companies consists of Altice USA, Inc.; Charter Communications, Inc.; Comcast Corporation; and WideOpenWest, Inc.
Comparison of 60 Month Cumulative Return
1112
12/31/201812/31/201912/31/202012/31/202112/31/202212/31/2023
Cable One, Inc.$100.00 $182.82 $275.01 $218.88 $89.27 $71.10 
S&P 500 Index$100.00 $131.49 $155.68 $200.37 $164.08 $207.21 
Peer Group$100.00 $145.72 $183.18 $174.76 $111.76 $139.13 
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence
© 2024
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The stock price performance shown on this graph is based on historical results and is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance. The graph is furnished solely to accompany this Annual Report on Form 10-K and is not being filed for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing of the Company under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer
The following table sets forth certain information relating to the purchases of our common stock by us and any affiliated purchasers within the meaning of Rule 10b-18(a)(3) under the Exchange Act during the three months ended December 31, 2023 (dollars in thousands, except per share data):
PeriodTotal Number
of Shares Purchased
Average Price Paid Per Share
Total Number of
Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs(1)
Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
October 1 to 31, 2023(2)
102$615.64 $143,104 
November 1 to 30, 2023(2)
59$550.05 $143,104 
December 1 to 31, 2023(2)
1$526.40 $143,104 
Total162$591.20 
(1)On May 20, 2022, the Company's Board authorized up to $450.0 million of share repurchases (with no cap as to the number of shares of common stock), which was announced on May 23, 2022 (the "Share Repurchase Program"). The authorization does not have an expiration date. The Company had $143.1 million of remaining share repurchase authorization under the Share Repurchase Program as of December 31, 2023. Additional purchases under the Share Repurchase Program may be made from time to time on the open market and in privately negotiated transactions. The size and timing of these purchases are based on a number of factors, including share price and business and market conditions.
(2)Includes shares withheld from associates to satisfy estimated tax withholding obligations in connection with the vesting of restricted stock and/or exercises of stock appreciation rights under the Company's incentive compensation plans. The average price paid per share for the common stock withheld was based on the closing price of the Company's common stock on the applicable vesting or exercise measurement date.
ITEM 6.    [RESERVED]
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ITEM 7.    MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, as well as the discussion in the section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K entitled “Business.” This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those discussed in the sections of this Annual Report on Form 10-K entitled “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and “Risk Factors.”
Throughout this “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” all totals, percentages and year-over-year changes are calculated using exact numbers. Minor differences may exist due to rounding.
Overview
We are a leading broadband communications provider committed to connecting customers and communities to what matters most. We strive to deliver an effortless experience by offering solutions that make our customers’ lives easier, and by relating to them personally as our neighbors and local business partners. Powered by our fiber-rich infrastructure, the Cable One family of brands provides residential customers with a wide array of connectivity and entertainment services, including Gigabit speeds, advanced Wi-Fi and video. For businesses ranging from small and mid-market up to enterprise, wholesale and carrier, we offer scalable, cost-effective solutions that enable businesses of all sizes to grow, compete and succeed. We believe the services we provide are critical to the development of new businesses and drive economic growth in the non-metropolitan, secondary and tertiary markets that we serve in 24 Western, Midwestern and Southern states. As of December 31, 2023, approximately 74% of our customers were located in seven states: Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. We provided services to approximately 1.1 million residential and business customers out of approximately 2.8 million homes passed as of December 31, 2023. Of these customers, approximately 1,059,000 subscribed to data services, 142,000 subscribed to video services and 119,000 subscribed to voice services as of December 31, 2023.
We generate substantially all of our revenues through three primary product lines. Ranked by share of our total revenues during 2023, they are residential data (58.4%), business services (data, voice and video provided to businesses: 18.1%) and residential video (15.4%). The profit margins, growth rates and/or capital intensity of these three primary product lines vary significantly due to competition, product maturity and relative costs.
In 2023, our Adjusted EBITDA margins for residential data and business services were approximately four and five times greater, respectively, than for residential video. We define Adjusted EBITDA margin for a product line as Adjusted EBITDA attributable to that product line divided by revenue attributable to that product line (see “Use of Adjusted EBITDA” below for the definition of Adjusted EBITDA and a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income, which is the most directly comparable GAAP measure). This margin disparity is largely the result of significant programming costs and retransmission fees incurred to deliver residential video services, which in each of the last three years represented between 63% and 65% of total residential video revenues. Neither of our other primary product lines has direct costs representing as substantial a portion of revenues as programming costs and retransmission fees represent for residential video, and indirect costs are generally allocated on a per PSU basis.
We focus on growing our higher margin businesses, namely residential data and business services. Our strategy acknowledges the industry-wide trends of declining profitability of residential video services and declining revenues from residential voice services. The declining profitability of residential video services is due primarily to increasing programming costs and retransmission fees and competition from other streaming content providers, and the declining revenues from residential voice services are due primarily to the increasing use of wireless voice services instead of residential voice services. Separately, we have also historically focused on retaining customers who are likely to produce higher relative value over the life of their service relationships with us, are less attracted by discounting, require less support and churn less. This strategy has focused on increasing Adjusted EBITDA, driving higher margins and delivering attractive levels of Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures over the long-term.

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Excluding the effects of recently completed and any potential future acquisitions and divestitures, the trends described above have impacted, and are expected to further impact, our three primary product lines in the following ways:
Residential data. We have experienced significant growth in residential data customers and revenues since 2013 and we expect growth for this product line to continue over the long-term. We believe upgrades made in our broadband capacity, our ability to offer higher access speeds than many of our competitors, the reliability and flexibility of our data service offerings, our Wi-Fi support service and continuously growing data usage by consumers and their demand for higher speeds will enable us to continue to grow ARPU from our existing customers over the long-term and capture additional market share. Our broadband plant generally consists of a fiber-to-the-premises or HFC network with ample unused capacity, and we offer our data customers internet products at some of the fastest speeds available in our markets. During the fourth quarter of 2023, our average residential data customer used 705 Gigabytes of data per month, with nearly 25% of our customers using over 1 Terabyte of data per month. We believe that the capacity and reliability of our networks exceeds that of our competitors in most of our markets and best positions us to meet the continuously increasing consumption demands of customers. We experienced elevated growth in residential data revenues during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have seen more subdued growth in recent quarters due in part to macroeconomic headwinds and continued competition in certain areas of our footprint.
Business services. We have experienced significant growth in business data customers and revenues since 2013. We attribute this growth to our strategic focus on increasing sales to business customers and our efforts to attract enterprise business customers. We expect to experience continued growth in business data customers and revenues over the long-term. Margins for products sold to business customers have remained attractive, which we expect will continue.
Residential video. Residential video service is an increasingly fragmented business, with programming costs and retransmission fees continuing to escalate in the face of a proliferation of streaming content alternatives. We intend to continue our strategy of focusing on the higher-margin businesses of residential data and business services while de-emphasizing our residential video business. As a result of our video strategy, we expect that residential video customers and revenues will continue to decline. We now offer Sparklight TV, an IPTV video service that allows customers with our Sparklight TV app to stream our video channels from the cloud. This transition from linear to IPTV video service enables us to reclaim bandwidth, freeing up network capacity to increase data speeds and capacity across our network.
We continue to experience increased competition, particularly from telephone companies; fiber, municipal and cooperative overbuilders; FWA data providers; and OTT video providers. Because of the levels of competition we face, we believe it is important to make investments in our infrastructure. In addition, a key objective of our capital allocation process is to invest in initiatives designed to drive revenue and Adjusted EBITDA expansion. Approximately 69% of our total capital expenditures since 2017 focused on infrastructure improvements intended to grow these measures. We continue to invest capital to, among other things, increase fiber density and coverage, expand our footprint, increase plant and data capacity, enhance network reliability and improve the customer experience. We have rolled out multi-Gigabit download data service to certain markets and currently offer Gigabit download data service to nearly all of our homes passed. We have also deployed DOCSIS 3.1, which, together with Sparklight TV, further increases our network capacity and enables future growth in our residential data and business services product lines.
We expect to continue to devote financial resources to infrastructure improvements in existing and newly acquired markets as well as to expand high-speed data service in areas adjacent to our existing network. We believe these investments are necessary to continually meet our customers’ needs and remain competitive. The capital enhancements associated with acquisitions include rebuilding low-capacity markets; reclaiming bandwidth from analog video services; implementing 32-channel bonding; deploying DOCSIS 4.0; consolidating back-office functions such as billing, accounting and service provisioning; migrating products to Cable One's platforms; and expanding our high-capacity fiber network.
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Our primary goals are to continue growing residential data and business services revenues, to increase profit margins and to deliver strong Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures over the long-term. To achieve these goals, we intend to continue our disciplined cost management approach, remain focused on customers with expected higher relative value, supplement our growth by targeting a broader scope of incremental customers, including those who are more value-conscious, combat competitive threats in our markets through more targeted pricing and product offerings and follow through with further planned investments in broadband plant upgrades, including the deployment of DOCSIS 4.0 capabilities and new data service offerings for residential and business customers. We also plan to seek broadband-related acquisition and strategic investment opportunities in rural markets in addition to the pursuit of organic growth through market expansion projects. Given our strategic focus on our higher margin residential data and business services product lines, we assess our level of capital expenditures relative to Adjusted EBITDA, unlike others in our industry who may compare their capital expenditures to revenues due to their much larger residential video customer bases.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, we increased our efforts to supplement the growth of our residential data customer base by targeting a broader scope of incremental customers, including those who are more value-conscious, through more targeted pricing and product offerings. These efforts contributed to the growth in our residential data PSUs during the fourth quarter of 2023, as compared to the third quarter of 2023, while also contributing to the reduction in residential data services ARPU for the quarter.
Our business is subject to extensive governmental regulation, which substantially impacts our operational and administrative expenses. Thus, we could be significantly impacted by changes to the existing regulatory framework, whether triggered by legislative, administrative or judicial rulings. The FCC currently is considering several initiatives, including proposed rules regarding net neutrality that could lead to increased regulation of our data and video services. Numerous states, including Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri (where we have subscribers), also have proposed administrative actions and/or legislation in the past or currently are considering such actions, which could lead to increased regulation of our provision of data services. Several states, including Oregon and Washington (where we also have subscribers), have adopted legislation that requires entities providing broadband internet access service in the state to comply with net neutrality requirements or that prohibits state and local government agencies from contracting with internet service providers that engage in certain network management activities based on paid prioritization, content blocking or other discrimination. We cannot predict whether or when any future changes to the regulatory framework will occur at the federal or state level or whether or to what extent those changes may affect our operations or impose additional costs on our business.
We serve our customers through a plant and network with capacity generally measuring 750 megahertz or higher and have DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities throughout our systems. Our technologically advanced fiber-based infrastructure provides for delivery of a full suite of data, video and voice products. Our broadband plant generally consists of a fiber-to-the-premises or HFC network with ample unused capacity, and nearly all of our homes passed have access to Gigabit download speeds, including certain markets that have access to multi-Gigabit download speeds, which we believe meaningfully distinguishes our offerings from certain competitors in our markets. As a result of multi-year investments in our plant and network, we increased broadband capacity and reliability, which has enabled and will continue to enable us to offer even higher download speeds to our customers. In addition, we began the deployment of symmetrical Gigabit speeds over our data network in select markets during 2023 and plan to begin deploying DOCSIS 4.0 by the end of 2024. These upgrades will allow us to further increase plant capacity in support of ongoing increases in consumer demand. We believe these investments will reinforce our competitive strength in this area.
In addition to our organic growth, we have also completed a number of acquisitions in recent years. In 2017, we acquired NewWave for $740.2 million. In 2019, we acquired Clearwave for $358.8 million and Fidelity for $531.4 million. In 2020, we acquired Valu-Net for $38.9 million. In 2020, we contributed the assets of our Anniston System to Hargray in exchange for an approximately 15% equity interest in Hargray and subsequently acquired the remaining approximately 85% equity interest in 2021 for approximately $2.0 billion. We also acquired certain assets and assumed certain liabilities from CableAmerica for $113.1 million in late 2021.
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In recent years, we have made investments in several broadband-centric providers serving non-urban markets that follow various strategies similar to our own. Such strategic investments capitalize on opportunities that may not have existed under a full ownership model, allow us to participate more aggressively in the fiber expansion business and may potentially provide future acquisition or investment opportunities, while allowing our management team to focus on our core business and without burdening our cash flow. In 2020, we invested a combined $634.9 million in CTI, Nextlink, Wisper and MBI and contributed the assets of the Anniston System to Hargray in exchange for an approximately 15% equity interest. In 2021, we invested a combined $95.8 million in Point Broadband, Tristar and Nextlink. In 2022, we contributed certain fiber operations to Clearwave Fiber in exchange for an approximately 58% equity interest in Clearwave Fiber valued at $440.0 million as of the closing date, divested our Tallahassee, Florida system and certain other non-core assets and invested a combined $41.8 million (including the $7.0 million fair value of our Tallahassee, Florida system) in Point Broadband, MetroNet, Visionary and Ziply. In 2023, our strategic investment and divestiture activities consisted of the following:
We invested an additional $1.6 million in Visionary.
We invested an additional $27.8 million in Ziply.
In July 2023, we redeemed our equity investment in Wisper for total cash proceeds of $35.9 million, which resulted in the recognition of a $1.8 million gain.
In July 2023, we divested our equity investment in Tristar for total cash proceeds of $20.9 million, which resulted in the recognition of a $3.4 million loss.
Refer to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022 for discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations for 2022 compared to 2021 contained in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
Results of Operations
Key Performance Measures Summary
The following table summarizes certain key measures of our results of operations (dollars in thousands):
Year Ended December 31,
20232022$ Change% Change
Revenues$1,678,081 $1,706,043 $(27,962)(1.6)%
Total costs and expenses$1,151,178 $1,167,054 $(15,876)(1.4)%
Income from operations$526,903 $538,989 $(12,086)(2.2)%
Net income$267,436 $234,118 $33,318 14.2 %
Cash flows from operating activities$663,170 $738,040 $(74,870)(10.1)%
Cash flows from investing activities$(341,904)$(448,267)$106,363 (23.7)%
Cash flows from financing activities$(346,127)$(463,425)$117,298 (25.3)%
Adjusted EBITDA$916,944 $911,851 $5,093 0.6 %
Capital expenditures$371,028 $414,095 $(43,067)(10.4)%
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PSU and Customer Counts
Selected subscriber data for the periods presented was as follows (in thousands, except percentages):
As of December 31,Annual Net Gain/(Loss)
20232022Change% Change
Residential data PSUs960.5 963.7 (3.3)(0.3)%
Residential video PSUs134.2 171.2 (37.1)(21.6)%
Residential voice PSUs79.2 91.3 (12.1)(13.3)%
Total residential PSUs1,173.8 1,226.3 (52.4)(4.3)%
Business data PSUs98.8 96.6 2.2 2.3 %
Business video PSUs8.1 10.3 (2.2)(21.7)%
Business voice PSUs39.5 40.8 (1.3)(3.1)%
Total business services PSUs146.4 147.7 (1.3)(0.9)%
Total data PSUs1,059.3 1,060.4 (1.1)(0.1)%
Total video PSUs142.3 181.5 (39.3)(21.6)%
Total voice PSUs118.7 132.1 (13.4)(10.1)%
Total PSUs1,320.2 1,374.0 (53.8)(3.9)%
Residential customer relationships994.4 1,010.2 (15.8)(1.6)%
Business customer relationships102.6 101.6 1.1 1.1 %
Total customer relationships1,097.0 1,111.7 (14.7)(1.3)%
Homes passed2,774.9 2,704.3 70.6 2.6 %
In recent years, our customer mix has shifted away from double- and triple-play packages combining data, video and/or voice services, which is in line with our strategy of focusing on our higher margin residential data and business services product lines. This is largely because some residential video customers have switched to OTT offerings and households continue to discontinue residential voice services. In addition, we have focused on selling data-only packages to new customers rather than cross-selling video to these customers.
Use of Nonfinancial Metrics and ARPU
We use various nonfinancial metrics to measure, manage and monitor our operating performance on an ongoing basis. Such metrics include homes passed, PSUs and customer relationships. Homes passed represents the number of serviceable and marketable homes and businesses passed by our active plant. A PSU represents a single subscription to a particular service offering. Residential bulk multi-dwelling PSUs are generally classified as residential and are counted at the individual unit level. Business voice customers who have multiple voice lines are counted as a single PSU. A customer relationship represents a single customer who subscribes to one or more PSUs.
We believe homes passed, PSU and customer relationship counts are useful to investors in evaluating our operating performance. Similar measures with similar titles are common measures used by investors, analysts and peers to compare performance in our industry, although our measures of homes passed, PSUs and customer relationships may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures reported by other companies.
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We use ARPU to evaluate and monitor the amount of revenue generated by each type of service subscribed to by customers and the contribution to total revenues as well as to analyze and compare growth patterns. Residential ARPU values represent the applicable residential service revenues (excluding installation and activation fees) divided by the corresponding average of the number of PSUs at the beginning and end of each period, divided by the number of months in the period, except that for any PSUs added or subtracted as a result of an acquisition or divestiture occurring during the period, the associated ARPU values represent the applicable residential service revenues (excluding installation and activation fees) divided by the pro-rated average number of PSUs during such period. Business services ARPU values represent business services revenues divided by the average of the number of business customer relationships at the beginning and end of each period, divided by the number of months in the period, except that for any business customer relationships added or subtracted as a result of an acquisition or divestiture occurring during the period, the associated ARPU values represent business services revenues divided by the pro-rated average number of business customer relationships during such period.
We believe ARPU is useful to investors in evaluating our operating performance. ARPU and similar measures with similar titles are common measures used by investors, analysts and peers to compare performance in our industry, although our measure of ARPU may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures reported by other companies.
2023 Compared to 2022
Revenues
Revenues decreased $28.0 million, or 1.6%, due primarily to decreases in residential video and residential voice revenues, partially offset by an increase in residential data revenues.
Revenues by service offering for 2023 and 2022, together with the percentages of total revenues that each item represented for the years presented, were as follows (dollars in thousands):
Year Ended December 31,
202320222023 vs. 2022
Revenues% of TotalRevenues% of Total$ Change% Change
Residential data$979,296 58.4 %$934,564 54.8 %$44,732 4.8 %
Residential video257,966 15.4 %325,200 19.1 %(67,234)(20.7)%
Residential voice37,088 2.2 %43,096 2.5 %(6,008)(13.9)%
Business services304,527 18.1 %305,286 17.9 %(759)(0.2)%
Other99,204 5.9 %97,897 5.7 %1,307 1.3 %
Total revenues$1,678,081 100.0 %$1,706,043 100.0 %$(27,962)(1.6)%
Residential data service revenues increased $44.7 million, or 4.8%, due primarily to increased customer subscriptions to premium tiers, migration of existing customers to higher tiers and a rate adjustment implemented during the second quarter of 2023.
Residential video service revenues decreased $67.2 million, or 20.7%, due primarily to a decrease in residential video subscribers.
Residential voice service revenues decreased $6.0 million, or 13.9%, due primarily to a decrease in residential voice subscribers.
Business services revenues decreased $0.8 million, or 0.2%, due primarily to the divestiture of certain operations that generated $3.5 million of business service revenues during 2022 and a decrease in business video and voice subscribers, largely offset by an increase in business data subscribers.
Other revenues increased $1.3 million, or 1.3%, due primarily to an increase in regulatory revenues.
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ARPU for the indicated service offerings for 2023 and 2022 were as follows:
Year Ended December 31,2023 vs. 2022
20232022$ Change% Change
Residential data$84.57 $81.12 $3.45 4.3 %
Residential video$140.63 $130.06 $10.57 8.1 %
Residential voice$36.20 $36.60 $(0.40)(1.1)%
Business services$248.55 $252.19 $(3.64)(1.4)%
Costs and Expenses
Operating expenses (excluding depreciation and amortization) were $440.9 million for 2023 and decreased $30.0 million, or 6.4%, compared to 2022. The decrease in operating expenses was primarily attributable to $49.9 million of lower programming and franchise fees as a result of video customer losses, partially offset by increases of $10.9 million in property taxes, $2.9 million in rent expense, $2.5 million in health insurance costs and $2.0 million in maintenance costs. Operating expenses as a percentage of revenues were 26.3% and 27.6% for 2023 and 2022, respectively.
Selling, general and administrative expenses were $354.7 million for 2023 and increased $4.4 million, or 1.2%, compared to 2022. The increase in selling, general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to increases of $9.3 million in marketing costs, $5.4 million in labor and other compensation-related costs and $4.2 million in software expense, partially offset by decreases of $9.4 million in property taxes, $4.3 million in health insurance costs and $3.2 million in professional services fees. Selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of revenues were 21.1% and 20.5% for 2023 and 2022, respectively.
Depreciation and amortization expense was $342.9 million for 2023 and decreased $7.6 million, or 2.2%, compared to 2022. The decrease in depreciation and amortization expense was primarily due to lower intangible asset amortization expense of $10.4 million driven by the use of accelerated amortization methods for certain customer relationship intangible assets. Depreciation and amortization expense as a percentage of revenues was 20.4% and 20.5% for 2023 and 2022, respectively.
We recognized a net loss on asset sales and disposals of $12.7 million and $9.2 million in 2023 and 2022, respectively.
We recognized a $22.1 million non-cash gain associated with the Clearwave Fiber Contribution and $8.3 million in non-cash losses associated with the dispositions of our Tallahassee, Florida system and certain other non-core assets during 2022.
Interest Expense
Interest expense was $170.1 million for 2023 and increased $32.4 million, or 23.6%, compared to 2022, driven primarily by higher interest rates.
Other Income (Expense), Net
Other income, net, was $54.6 million for 2023 and consisted primarily of a $28.0 million non-cash gain on fair value adjustment associated with the MBI Net Option, $18.6 million of interest and investment income, a $12.3 million non-cash mark-to-market gain on the investment in Point Broadband and a $1.8 million gain on the redemption of the Wisper equity investment, partially offset by a $3.4 million loss on the sale of the Tristar equity investment and $3.3 million of debt issuance costs written off in connection with the entry into the New Credit Agreement. Other expense, net, was $25.9 million for 2022 and consisted primarily of a $40.7 million non-cash loss on fair value adjustment associated with the MBI Net Option, partially offset by $13.7 million of interest and investment income.
Income Tax Provision
Income tax provision was $89.7 million for 2023 and decreased $36.6 million, or 29.0%, compared to 2022. Our effective tax rate was 21.8% and 33.7% for 2023 and 2022, respectively. The decrease in the effective tax rate was due primarily to decreases of $16.5 million in income tax expense related to a change in the valuation allowance associated with the MBI Net Option (as defined and described in note 6 to the consolidated financial statements) and $16.1 million in deferred income tax expense related to state blended rate changes.
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Net Income
Net income was $267.4 million for 2023 compared to $234.1 million for 2022.
Unrealized Gain (Loss) on Cash Flow Hedges and Other, Net of Tax
Unrealized loss on cash flow hedges and other, net of tax was $13.3 million for 2023 compared to an unrealized gain on cash flow hedges and other, net of tax of $132.8 million for 2022. The $146.1 million year-over-year change was due to smaller increases in forward interest rates during 2023 compared to the prior year.
Use of Adjusted EBITDA
We use certain measures that are not defined by GAAP to evaluate various aspects of our business. Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure and should be considered in addition to, not as superior to, or as a substitute for, net income reported in accordance with GAAP. Adjusted EBITDA is reconciled to net income below, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.
Adjusted EBITDA is defined as net income plus interest expense, income tax provision, depreciation and amortization, equity-based compensation, severance and contract termination costs, (gain) loss on deferred compensation, acquisition-related costs, (gain) loss on asset sales and disposals, system conversion costs, (gain) loss on sales of businesses, equity method investment (income) loss, other (income) expense and other unusual items, as provided in the following table. As such, it eliminates the significant non-cash depreciation and amortization expense that results from the capital-intensive nature of our business as well as other non-cash or special items and is unaffected by our capital structure or investment activities. This measure is limited in that it does not reflect the periodic costs of certain capitalized tangible and intangible assets used in generating revenues and our cash cost of debt financing. These costs are evaluated through other financial measures.
We use Adjusted EBITDA to assess our performance. In addition, Adjusted EBITDA generally correlates to the measure used in the leverage ratio calculations under the New Credit Agreement and the Senior Notes Indenture (as defined elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K) to determine compliance with the covenants contained in the New Credit Agreement and the ability to take certain actions under the Senior Notes Indenture. Adjusted EBITDA is also a significant performance measure that we have used in our incentive compensation programs. Adjusted EBITDA does not take into account cash used for mandatory debt service requirements or other non-discretionary expenditures, and thus does not represent residual funds available for discretionary uses.
Year Ended December 31,2023 vs. 2022
(dollars in thousands)20232022$ Change% Change
Net income$267,436 $234,118 $33,318 14.2 %
Plus: Interest expense170,147 137,713 32,434 23.6 %
Income tax provision89,704 126,332 (36,628)(29.0)%
Depreciation and amortization342,891 350,462 (7,571)(2.2)%
Equity-based compensation29,420 22,514 6,906 30.7 %
Severance and contract termination costs2,890 — 2,890 NM
(Gain) loss on deferred compensation— (154)154 (100.0)%
Acquisition-related costs1,331 3,208 (1,877)(58.5)%
(Gain) loss on asset sales and disposals, net12,708 9,199 3,509 38.1 %
System conversion costs801 1,466 (665)(45.4)%
(Gain) loss on sales of businesses, net— (13,833)13,833 (100.0)%
Equity method investment (income) loss, net54,256 14,913 39,343 NM
Other (income) expense, net(54,640)25,913 (80,553)NM
Adjusted EBITDA$916,944 $911,851 $5,093 0.6 %
NM = Not meaningful.
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We believe that Adjusted EBITDA is useful to investors in evaluating our operating performance. Adjusted EBITDA and similar measures with similar titles are common measures used by investors, analysts and peers to compare performance in our industry, although our measure of Adjusted EBITDA may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures reported by other companies.
Financial Condition: Liquidity and Capital Resources
Liquidity
Our primary funding requirements are for our ongoing operations, capital expenditures, potential acquisitions and strategic investments, payments of quarterly dividends and share repurchases. We believe that existing cash balances, our Senior Credit Facilities and operating cash flows will provide adequate support for these funding requirements over the next 12 months. However, our ability to fund operations, make capital expenditures, make future acquisitions and strategic investments, pay quarterly dividends and make share repurchases depends on future operating performance and cash flows, which, in turn, are subject to prevailing economic conditions and to financial, business and other factors, some of which are beyond our control.
As part of our 45% minority equity interest in MBI, we acquired the right, but not the obligation, to purchase all but not less than all of the remaining equity interests in MBI that we do not already own between January 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024 (the "Call Option"). Investors affiliated with GTCR LLC, a private equity firm based in Chicago, have the right, but not the obligation, to sell (and to cause all members of MBI other than us to sell) to us and, in such case, we are obligated to purchase all but not less than all of the direct and indirect equity interests in MBI that we do not already own between July 1, 2025 through September 30, 2025 (the "Put Option"). The purchase price payable upon the exercise of the Call Option or the Put Option, as applicable, will be calculated under a formula based on a multiple of MBI’s adjusted EBITDA as specified in the documentation governing our investment in MBI in 2020. We have not yet obtained the capital that we believe will be necessary to pay the purchase price if either the Call Option or the Put Option are exercised. At this time, we do not expect to exercise the Call Option.
The following table shows a summary of our net cash flows for the years indicated (dollars in thousands):
Year Ended December 31,2023 vs. 2022
20232022$ Change% Change
Net cash provided by operating activities$663,170 $738,040 $(74,870)(10.1)%
Net cash used in investing activities(341,904)(448,267)106,363 (23.7)%
Net cash used in financing activities(346,127)(463,425)117,298 (25.3)%
Change in cash and cash equivalents(24,861)(173,652)148,791 (85.7)%
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period215,150 388,802 (173,652)(44.7)%
Cash and cash equivalents, end of period$190,289 $215,150 $(24,861)(11.6)%
The $74.9 million year-over-year decrease in net cash provided by operating activities was primarily attributable to increases in cash paid for income taxes and interest along with unfavorable changes in the timing of working capital balances compared to the prior year, partially offset by a $5.1 million increase in Adjusted EBITDA
The $106.4 million year-over-year decrease in net cash used in investing activities was due primarily to $56.7 million of proceeds received from sales of equity investments in 2023, a $43.1 million decrease in cash paid for capital expenditures and a $21.0 million decrease in new debt and equity investments, partially offset by $9.2 million of proceeds received from the dispositions of our Tallahassee, Florida system and certain other non-core assets in the prior year.
The $117.3 million year-over-year decrease in net cash used in financing activities from the prior year was due primarily to the receipt of net proceeds of $629.9 million from long-term debt borrowings in 2023 and a $253.7 million reduction in share repurchases, partially offset by $768.8 million of higher debt repayments. Refer to the following section for further information on our financing activity.
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On July 1, 2015, the Board authorized up to $250.0 million of share repurchases (subject to a total cap of 600,000 shares of our common stock). On May 20, 2022, the Board authorized up to $450.0 million of additional share repurchases (with no cap as to the number of shares of common stock). We exhausted the share repurchase authorization under the 2015 authorization during the second quarter of 2022 and had $143.1 million of remaining share repurchase authorization under the Share Repurchase Program as of December 31, 2023. Additional purchases under the Share Repurchase Program may be made from time to time on the open market and in privately negotiated transactions. The size and timing of these purchases are based on a number of factors, including share price and business and market conditions. Since we first became publicly traded in 2015 through the end of 2023, we have repurchased 646,244 shares of our common stock at an aggregate cost of $556.9 million, including 141,551 shares purchased at an aggregate cost of $99.6 million during 2023 under our share repurchase programs. We may, from time to time, continue to opportunistically repurchase shares depending on the trading price of our common stock, market conditions and other factors.
We currently expect to continue to pay comparable quarterly cash dividends on shares of our common stock, subject to approval of the Board. During the fourth quarter of 2023, the Board approved a quarterly dividend of $2.95 per share of common stock, which was paid on December 15, 2023, bringing total dividends distributed during 2023 to $66.3 million. On February 6, 2024, the Board approved a quarterly dividend of $2.95 per share of common stock to be paid on March 8, 2024 to holders of record as of February 20, 2024.
Financing Activity
Senior Credit Facilities
Prior to February 22, 2023, we had in place the third amended and restated credit agreement among us and our lenders, dated as of October 30, 2020 (as amended prior to February 22, 2023, the "Credit Agreement"), that provided for senior secured term loans in original aggregate principal amounts of $700.0 million maturing in 2025 (the “Term Loan A-2”), $250.0 million maturing in 2027 (the “Term Loan B-2”), $625.0 million maturing in 2027 (the “Term Loan B-3”) and $800.0 million maturing in 2028 (the "Term Loan B-4"), as well as a $500.0 million revolving credit facility maturing in 2025 (the “Revolving Credit Facility” and, together with the Term Loan A-2, the Term Loan B-2, the Term Loan B-3 and the Term Loan B-4, the “Senior Credit Facilities”). The Revolving Credit Facility also gives us the ability to issue letters of credit, which reduce the amount available for borrowing under the Revolving Credit Facility.
On February 22, 2023, we entered into the fourth amended and restated credit agreement with our lenders to amend and restate the Credit Agreement (as amended and restated, the "New Credit Agreement") to, among other things, (i) increase the aggregate principal amount of commitments under the Revolving Credit Facility by $500.0 million to $1.0 billion; (ii) extend the scheduled maturity of the Revolving Credit Facility from October 2025 to February 2028; (iii) upsize the Term Loan B-3 by $150.0 million to $757.0 million (the "TLB-3 Upsize"); (iv) extend the scheduled maturities of the Term Loan B-2 and the Term Loan B-3 from October 2027 to October 2029 (subject to adjustment as described in the notes to the table below summarizing our outstanding term loans as of December 31, 2023); (v) increase the fixed spreads on the Term Loan B-2 and the Term Loan B-3 from 2.00% to 2.25%; and (vi) transition the benchmark interest rate for the Revolving Credit Facility, the Term Loan B-2 and the Term Loan B-3 from the London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate ("SOFR") plus a 10 basis point credit spread adjustment. Except as described above, the New Credit Agreement did not make any material changes to the principal terms of the Term Loan B-2, the Term Loan B-3, the Term Loan B-4 or the Revolving Credit Facility. Upon the effectiveness of the New Credit Agreement, we drew $488.0 million under the Revolving Credit Facility and, together with the net proceeds from the TLB-3 Upsize, repaid all $638.3 million aggregate principal amount of our then outstanding Term Loan A-2. In July 2023, we transitioned the benchmark interest rate for the Term Loan B-4 from LIBOR to SOFR plus a credit spread adjustment that ranges from approximately 11.4 basis points to 42.8 basis points based on the interest period elected.
We repaid $150.0 million of outstanding Revolving Credit Facility borrowings during 2023, reducing the outstanding balance to $338.0 million as of December 31, 2023. In February 2024, we repaid an additional $50.0 million of the outstanding Revolving Credit Facility borrowings.
As of December 31, 2023, the interest margins applicable to the Senior Credit Facilities are, at our option, equal to either SOFR or a base rate, plus an applicable margin equal to, (i) with respect to the Revolving Credit Facility, 1.25% to 1.75% plus a 10 basis point credit spread adjustment for SOFR loans and 0.25% to 0.75% for base rate loans, determined on a quarterly basis by reference to a pricing grid based on our Total Net Leverage Ratio (as defined in the New Credit Agreement), (ii) with respect to the Term Loan B-2 and the Term Loan B-3, 2.25% plus a 10 basis point credit spread adjustment for SOFR loans and 1.25% for base rate loans and (iii) with respect to the Term Loan B-4, 2.0% plus an approximately 11.4 to 42.8 basis point credit spread adjustment based on the interest period elected for SOFR loans and 1.0% for base rate loans.
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The Senior Credit Facilities contain customary representations, warranties and affirmative and negative covenants, including limitations on indebtedness, liens, restricted payments, prepayments of certain indebtedness, investments, dispositions of assets, restrictions on subsidiary distributions and negative pledge clauses, fundamental changes, transactions with affiliates and amendments to organizational documents. The Senior Credit Facilities also require that we maintain specified ratios of total net indebtedness and first lien net indebtedness to consolidated operating cash flow. The Senior Credit Facilities also contain customary events of default, including non-payment of principal, interest, fees or other amounts, material inaccuracy of any representation or warranty, failure to observe or perform any covenant, default in respect of our and our restricted subsidiaries’ other material debt, bankruptcy or insolvency, the entry against us or any of our restricted subsidiaries of a material judgment, the occurrence of certain ERISA events, impairment of the loan documentation and the occurrence of a change of control.
As of December 31, 2023, we had approximately $1.8 billion of aggregate outstanding term loan borrowings and $338.0 million of borrowings and $662.0 million available for borrowing under the Revolving Credit Facility. A summary of the term loans outstanding under the New Credit Agreement as of December 31, 2023 is as follows (dollars in thousands):
Instrument
Draw Date(s)
Original Principal
Amortization Per Annum(1)
Outstanding Principal
Final Scheduled Maturity DateFinal Scheduled Principal Payment
Benchmark Rate
Fixed Margin
Interest Rate
Term Loan B-21/7/2019$250,000 1.0%$238,125 
10/30/2029(2)
$223,750 SOFR + 10.0 bps2.25%7.71%
Term Loan B-3
6/14/2019
10/30/2020
2/22/2023
325,000
300,000
150,000
1.0%749,223 
10/30/2029(2)
704,695 SOFR + 10.0 bps2.25%7.71%
Term Loan B-45/3/2021800,000 1.0%780,000 5/3/2028746,000 SOFR + 11.4 bps2.00%7.47%
Total$1,825,000 $1,767,348 $1,674,445 
(1)Payable in equal quarterly installments (expressed as a percentage of the original principal amount and subject to customary adjustments in the event of any prepayment). All loans may be prepaid at any time without penalty or premium (subject to customary SOFR breakage provisions).
(2)The final maturity date of the Term Loan B-2 and the Term Loan B-3, in each case, will adjust to May 3, 2028 if greater than $150.0 million aggregate principal amount of the Term Loan B-4 (together with any refinancing indebtedness in respect of the Term Loan B-4 with a final maturity date prior to the date that is 91 days after October 30, 2029) remains outstanding on May 3, 2028.
Senior Notes
In November 2020, we completed a private offering of $650.0 million aggregate principal amount of 4.00% senior notes due 2030 (the “Senior Notes”). The Senior Notes bear interest at a rate of 4.00% per annum payable semi-annually in arrears on May 15th and November 15th of each year, beginning on May 15, 2021. The terms of the Senior Notes are governed by an indenture dated as of November 9, 2020 (the “Senior Notes Indenture”), among us, the guarantors party thereto and The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A. (“BNY”), as trustee. The Senior Notes are required to be guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis by each of our existing and future wholly owned domestic subsidiaries that guarantees our obligations under the Credit Agreement or that guarantees certain capital markets debt of ours or a guarantor in an aggregate principal amount in excess of $250.0 million.
At any time and from time to time prior to November 15, 2025, we may redeem some or all of the Senior Notes for cash at a redemption price equal to 100% of their principal amount, plus the “make-whole” premium described in the Senior Notes Indenture and accrued and unpaid interest, if any, to, but excluding, the applicable redemption date. Beginning on November 15, 2025, we may redeem some or all of the Senior Notes at any time and from time to time at the applicable redemption prices listed in the Senior Notes Indenture, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any, to, but excluding, the applicable redemption date. In addition, at any time and from time to time prior to November 15, 2023, we may redeem up to 40% of the aggregate principal amount of Senior Notes with funds in an aggregate amount not exceeding the net cash proceeds from one or more equity offerings at a redemption price equal to 104% of the principal amount thereof, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any, to, but excluding, the applicable redemption date.
Upon the occurrence of a Change of Control and a Below Investment Grade Rating Event (each as defined in the Senior Notes Indenture), we are required to offer to repurchase the Senior Notes at 101% of the principal amount of such Senior Notes, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any, to, but excluding, the date of repurchase.
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Convertible Notes
In March 2021, we completed a private offering of $575.0 million aggregate principal amount of 0.000% convertible senior notes due 2026 (the “2026 Notes”) and $345.0 million aggregate principal amount of 1.125% convertible senior notes due 2028 (the “2028 Notes” and, together with the 2026 Notes, the “Convertible Notes,” and the Convertible Notes collectively with the Senior Notes, the "Notes"). The net proceeds from the offering were $895.2 million after deducting initial purchaser discounts and other offering costs and expenses. We used the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, including to finance a portion of the purchase price for the Hargray Acquisition. The Convertible Notes are senior unsecured obligations of ours and are guaranteed by our wholly owned domestic subsidiaries that guarantee the Senior Credit Facilities or that guarantee certain of our Notes in an aggregate principal amount in excess of $250.0 million. The 2026 Notes do not bear regular interest, and the principal amount of the 2026 Notes do not accrete. The 2028 Notes bear interest at a rate of 1.125% per annum. Interest on the 2028 Notes is payable semiannually in arrears on March 15th and September 15th of each year, beginning on September 15, 2021, unless earlier repurchased, converted or redeemed. The 2026 Notes are scheduled to mature on March 15, 2026, and the 2028 Notes are scheduled to mature on March 15, 2028. The initial conversion rate for each of the 2026 Notes and the 2028 Notes is 0.4394 shares of our common stock per $1,000 principal amount of 2026 Notes and 2028 Notes, as applicable (equivalent to an initial conversion price of $2,275.83 per share of common stock). The initial conversion price of each of the 2026 Notes and the 2028 Notes represents a premium of 25.0% over the last reported sale price of $1,820.83 per share of our common stock on March 2, 2021. The Convertible Notes are convertible at the option of the holders. The method of conversion into cash, shares of our common stock or a combination thereof is at our election.
Other Debt-Related Information
In connection with the refinancing transaction completed during 2023, we capitalized $7.8 million of debt issuance costs and wrote-off to other expense $3.3 million of existing unamortized debt issuance costs. We recorded debt issuance cost amortization of $4.7 million and $5.3 million for 2023 and 2022, respectively, within interest expense in the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income.
Unamortized debt issuance costs consisted of the following (in thousands):
As of December 31,
20232022
Revolving Credit Facility portion:
Other noncurrent assets$3,087 $1,904 
Term loans and Notes portion:
Long-term debt (contra account)22,532 23,913 
Total$25,619 $25,817 
Unamortized debt discount associated with the Convertible Notes was $12.0 million and $16.3 million as of December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. We recorded debt discount amortization of $4.3 million during both 2023 and 2022 within interest expense in the consolidated statement of operations and comprehensive income.
On May 3, 2022, we entered into a letter of credit agreement with MUFG Bank, Ltd. which provides for an additional $75.0 million letter of credit issuing capacity. As of December 31, 2023, $10.5 million of letter of credit issuances were held for the benefit of performance obligations under government grant programs and certain general and liability insurance matters and bore interest at a rate of 1.0% per annum.
We were in compliance with all debt covenants as of December 31, 2023.
We are party to two interest rate swap agreements to convert our interest payment obligations with respect to an aggregate of $1.2 billion of our variable rate SOFR indebtedness to a fixed rate. Under the first swap agreement, with respect to a notional amount of $850.0 million, our monthly payment obligation is determined at a fixed base rate of 2.595%. Under the second swap agreement, with respect to a notional amount of $350.0 million, our monthly payment obligation is determined at a fixed base rate of 2.691%. Both interest rate swap agreements are scheduled to mature in the first quarter of 2029 but each may be terminated prior to the scheduled maturity at our election or that of the financial institution counterparty under the terms provided in each swap agreement. We recognized income of $29.0 million and expense of $11.9 million on interest rate swaps for 2023 and 2022, respectively, which were reflected within interest expense in the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income.
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Refer to notes 10 and 12 to the consolidated financial statements for further details regarding our financing activity, outstanding debt and interest rate swaps.
Capital Expenditures
We have significant ongoing capital expenditure requirements as well as capital enhancements associated with acquired operations and the expansion of our high-capacity fiber network. We are entering the final year of capital enhancements associated with acquired operations, which has been focused on upgrading any remaining low-capacity markets and migrating products and billing systems to Cable One platforms. Capital expenditures are funded primarily by cash on hand and cash flows from operating activities.
Our capital expenditures by category for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 were as follows (in thousands):
Year Ended December 31,
20232022
Customer premise equipment(1)
$62,066 $101,252 
Commercial(2)
38,893 34,282 
Scalable infrastructure(3)
54,097 52,086 
Line extensions(4)
51,466 52,839 
Upgrade/rebuild(5)
60,898 87,284 
Support capital(6)
103,608 86,352 
Total$371,028 $414,095 
(1)Customer premise equipment includes costs incurred at customer locations, including installation costs and customer premise equipment (e.g., modems and set-top boxes).
(2)Commercial includes costs related to securing business services customers and PSUs, including small and medium-sized businesses and enterprise customers.
(3)Scalable infrastructure includes costs not related to customer premise equipment to secure growth of new customers and PSUs or provide service enhancements (e.g., headend equipment).
(4)Line extensions include network costs associated with entering new service areas (e.g., fiber/coaxial cable, amplifiers, electronic equipment, make-ready and design engineering).
(5)Upgrade/rebuild includes costs to modify or replace existing fiber/coaxial cable networks, including betterments.
(6)Support capital includes costs associated with the replacement or enhancement of non-network assets due to technological and physical obsolescence (e.g., non-network equipment, land, buildings and vehicles) and capitalized internal labor costs not associated with customer installation activities.
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Contractual Obligations and Contingent Commitments
The following table summarizes our outstanding contractual obligations as of December 31, 2023 (in thousands):
Year Ending December 31,
Programming Purchase Commitments(1)
Lease Payments(2)
Debt Payments(3)
Other Purchase Obligations(4)
Total
2024$101,275 $4,875 $18,244 $53,441 $177,835 
202546,467 3,827 18,244 16,300 84,838 
202613,435 2,854 593,244 11,532 621,065 
2027— 2,008 18,244 1,273 21,525 
2028— 1,309 1,441,244 1,136 1,443,689 
Thereafter— 3,357 1,586,128 3,920 1,593,405 
Total$161,177 $18,230 $3,675,348 $87,602 $3,942,357 
(1)Programming purchase commitments represent contracts that we have with cable television networks and broadcast stations to provide programming services to our subscribers. The amounts reported represent estimates of the future programming costs for these purchase commitments based on estimated subscriber numbers, tier placements as of December 31, 2023 and the per-subscriber rates contained in the contracts. Actual amounts due under such contracts may differ from the amounts above based on the actual subscriber numbers and tier placements at the time. Programming purchases pursuant to non-binding commitments are not reflected in the amounts shown.
(2)Lease payments include payment obligations related to our outstanding finance and operating lease arrangements as of December 31, 2023.
(3)Debt payments include principal repayment obligations for our outstanding debt instruments as of December 31, 2023, including $338.0 million of current outstanding Revolving Credit Facility borrowings that mature in 2028 (which may be repaid before then).
(4)Other purchase obligations include purchase obligations related to capital projects and other legally binding commitments. Other purchase orders made in the ordinary course of business are excluded from the amounts shown but are included within accounts payable and accrued liabilities in our consolidated balance sheet.
We incur the following costs as part of our operations, however, they are not included within the contractual obligations table above for the reasons discussed below:
We rent space on utility poles in order to provide our services to certain subscribers. Generally, pole rentals are cancellable on short notice. However, we anticipate that such rentals will recur. Rent expense for pole attachments was $15.0 million and $12.3 million for 2023 and 2022, respectively.
Fees imposed on us by various governmental authorities, including franchise fees, are passed through monthly to our customers and are periodically remitted to authorities. These fees were $26.9 million and $31.2 million for 2023 and 2022, respectively. As we act as principal in these arrangements, these fees are reported in video and voice revenues on a gross basis with corresponding expenses included within operating expenses in the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income.
We have franchise agreements requiring plant construction and the provision of services to customers within the franchise areas. In connection with these obligations under existing franchise agreements, we obtain surety bonds or letters of credit guaranteeing performance to municipalities and public utilities and payment of insurance premiums. Such surety bonds and letters of credit totaled $29.8 million and $52.1 million as of December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. Payments under these arrangements are required only in the remote event of nonperformance. We do not expect that these contingent commitments will result in any amounts being paid.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements or financing arrangements with special-purpose entities.
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Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our estimates and assumptions. We base our estimates on historical experience and other assumptions believed to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying value of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results could differ from these estimates.
An accounting policy is considered to be critical if it is important to our results of operations and financial condition and if it requires management’s most difficult, subjective and complex judgments in its application. For a summary of all our significant accounting policies, see note 2 of the notes to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Long-lived Assets
A long-lived asset or asset group is tested for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may not be recoverable. Indicators of impairment may include:
a significant decrease in the market value of the asset;
a significant change in the extent or manner in which an asset is used or a significant change in the physical condition of the asset;
a significant adverse change in legal factors or in the business climate that could affect the value of an asset, including an adverse action or assessment by a regulator;
an accumulation of costs significantly in excess of the amount originally expected to acquire or construct an asset;
a current period operating or cash flow loss combined with a history of operating or cash flow losses or a projection or forecast that demonstrates continuing losses associated with an asset; and
a current expectation that, more likely than not, an asset will be sold or otherwise disposed of significantly before the end of its estimated useful life.
When an indicator of impairment is determined, the first step is to identify the future intent of the asset or asset group: hold for continued use, hold for sale or dispose by a means other than sale. If the asset is held for continued use and the carrying amount exceeds the undiscounted sum of cash flows expected from the use and eventual disposition of the property, the impairment loss is recognized as the difference between the carrying amount and the estimated fair value of the asset or asset group, and the new cost basis is depreciated over the remaining useful life of the asset. If the intent is to hold the asset for sale and certain other criteria are met (e.g., the asset can be disposed of currently, appropriate levels of authority have approved the sale and there is an active program to locate a buyer), the impairment test involves comparing the asset’s carrying value to its estimated fair value less disposal costs. To the extent the carrying value is greater than the asset’s estimated fair value less disposal costs, an impairment charge is recognized for the difference. If the asset is to be disposed by a means other than sale, the depreciation estimates are revised to reflect the use of the asset over its shortened useful life.
Significant judgments in this area involve determining whether an event has occurred, determining the future cash flows for the assets involved and selecting the appropriate discount rate to be applied in determining estimated fair value.
Goodwill and Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets
We have a significant amount of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets that are reviewed at least annually for impairment. These balances were as follows (dollars in thousands):
As of December 31,
20232022
Goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets$3,029,493$3,030,293
Total assets$6,846,933$6,913,890
Goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets as a percentage of total assets44.2 %43.8 %
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Goodwill Reporting Unit. Goodwill is calculated as the excess of the consideration transferred over the fair value of identifiable net assets acquired in a business combination and represents the future economic benefits expected to arise from anticipated synergies and intangible assets acquired that do not qualify for separate recognition, including an assembled workforce, noncontractual relationships and other agreements. We assess the recoverability of our goodwill as of October 1st of each year, or more frequently whenever events or substantive changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of a reporting unit may exceed its fair value. We test goodwill for impairment at the reporting unit level, for which we have identified a single goodwill reporting unit based on the chief operating decision maker’s performance monitoring and resource allocation process and the similarity of our geographic divisions.
Indefinite-Lived Intangible Asset Unit of Accounting. Our intangible asset with an indefinite life is from franchise agreements that we have with state and local governments. Franchise agreements allow us to contract and operate our business within specified geographic areas. We expect our franchise agreements to provide substantial benefit for a period that extends beyond the foreseeable horizon, and we have historically been able to obtain renewals and extensions of such agreements without material modifications to the agreements for nominal costs. These costs are expensed as incurred.
We assess our indefinite-lived intangible asset for impairment as of October 1st of each year, or more frequently whenever events or substantive changes in circumstances indicate that the asset might be impaired. We have identified a single unit of accounting for our franchise agreements for use in impairment assessments based on our current operations and the use of our assets.
Property, Plant and Equipment
Our industry is capital intensive, and a significant portion of our resources is spent on capital activities associated with extending, rebuilding and upgrading our network. The following tables present certain information regarding our net property, plant and equipment and our cash paid for property, plant and equipment for the periods indicated (dollars in thousands):
As of December 31,
20232022
Property, plant and equipment, net$1,791,120$1,701,755
Total assets$6,846,933$6,913,890
Property, plant and equipment, net as a percentage of total assets26.2 %24.6 %
Year Ended December 31,
202320222021
Cash paid for property, plant and equipment$367,704 $410,737 $384,527 
Property, plant and equipment represents the costs incurred in the design, construction and implementation of plant, infrastructure and capacity improvements and upgrades. Costs associated with the installation and upgrade of services and the acquiring and deploying of customer premise equipment, including materials, internal and external labor costs and related indirect and overhead costs, are also capitalized.
Capitalized labor costs include the direct costs of engineers and technical personnel involved in the design and implementation of plant and infrastructure; the costs of technicians involved in the installation and upgrades of services and customer premise equipment; and the costs of support personnel directly involved in capitalizable activities, such as project managers and supervisors. These costs are capitalized based on internally developed standards by position, which are updated annually (or more frequently if required). These standards are developed utilizing a combination of actual costs incurred where applicable, operational data and management judgment. Overhead costs are capitalized based on standards developed from historical information. Indirect and overhead costs include payroll taxes; insurance and other benefits; and vehicle, tool and supply expense related to installation activities. Costs for repairs and maintenance, disconnecting service or reconnecting service are expensed as incurred.
The estimated useful lives assigned to our property, plant and equipment are reviewed on an annual basis or more frequently if circumstances warrant and such lives are revised to the extent necessary due to changing facts and circumstances. Any changes in estimated useful lives are reflected prospectively.
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Business Combination Purchase Price Allocation
The application of the acquisition method requires the allocation of the purchase price amongst the acquisition date fair values of identifiable assets acquired and liabilities assumed in a business combination. Fair values are determined using the income approach, market approach and/or cost approach depending on the nature of the asset or liability being valued and the reliability of available information. The income approach estimates fair value by discounting associated lifetime expected future cash flows to their present value and relies on significant assumptions regarding future revenues, expenses, working capital levels and discount rates. The market approach estimates fair value by analyzing recent actual market transactions for similar assets or liabilities. The cost approach estimates fair value based on the expected cost to replace or reproduce the asset or liability and relies on assumptions regarding the occurrence and extent of any physical, functional and/or economic obsolescence.
Recently Adopted and Issued Accounting Pronouncements
Recent accounting pronouncements which may be applicable to us are described in note 2 to our consolidated financial statements.
ITEM 7A.    QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
Market risk is the potential loss arising from changes in market rates and prices. As of December 31, 2023, our market risk sensitive instruments consisted of our Senior Credit Facilities and interest rate swaps, as each is described within the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Financial Condition: Liquidity and Capital Resources — Financing Activity” and notes 10 and 12 to the consolidated financial statements. None of these instruments were entered into for trading purposes and all instruments relate to the interest rate risk exposure category.
Outstanding borrowings under our Senior Credit Facilities, which bear interest, at our option, at a rate per annum determined by reference to either SOFR or a base rate, in each case plus an applicable credit spread adjustment and interest rate margin, were approximately $2.1 billion at December 31, 2023. We are also party to two interest rate swap agreements to effectively convert the variable rate interest to fixed base rates of 2.595% and 2.691% for $850.0 million and $350.0 million of such outstanding debt, respectively. Based on the principal outstanding under our Senior Credit Facilities with exposure to SOFR at December 31, 2023, assuming, hypothetically, that the SOFR applicable to the Senior Credit Facilities was 100 basis points higher, our annual interest expense would have increased $9.1 million.
Additionally, as of December 31, 2023, we had $650.0 million, $575.0 million and $345.0 million aggregate principal amount of the Senior Notes, 2026 Notes and 2028 Notes, respectively, outstanding. Although the Senior Notes and 2028 Notes are based on fixed rates and the 2026 Notes do not bear interest, changes in interest rates could impact the fair market value of such notes. As of December 31, 2023, the fair market values of the Senior Notes, 2026 Notes and 2028 Notes were $529.8 million, $491.6 million and $263.9 million, respectively.
As of December 31, 2022, outstanding borrowings under our Senior Credit Facilities were approximately $2.3 billion and the notional amount of our effective interest rate swap agreement was $1.2 billion. Based on the principal then-outstanding under our Senior Credit Facilities with exposure to LIBOR at December 31, 2022, assuming, hypothetically, that the LIBOR applicable to the Senior Credit Facilities was 100 basis points higher, our annual interest expense would have been $10.7 million higher in 2022.
ITEM 8.    FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
Our consolidated financial statements, the related notes thereto and the report of the independent registered public accounting firm are included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K beginning on page F-1 and are incorporated by reference herein.
ITEM 9.    CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
None.
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ITEM 9A.    CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
Disclosure Controls and Procedures
The Company’s management, with the participation of the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, has evaluated the effectiveness of the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures (as such term is defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) under the Exchange Act) as of December 31, 2023, the end of the period covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Based on such evaluation, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer have concluded that, as of the end of such period, the Company’s disclosure controls and procedures were effective in ensuring that information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported, within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms and were effective in ensuring that information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to the Company’s management, including the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.
Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
The Company’s management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting (as such term is defined in Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f) under the Exchange Act). The Company’s internal control over financial reporting is designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
The Company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (i) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the Company; (ii) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and that receipts and expenditures of the Company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the Company; and (iii) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the Company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
The Company’s management conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023. In making this assessment, management used the criteria set forth in Internal Control — Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). Based on the results of this assessment, management has concluded that, as of December 31, 2023, the Company’s internal control over financial reporting was effective based on these criteria.
The effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023 has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm, as stated in their report beginning on page F-2 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
There has been no change in the Company’s internal control over financial reporting (as such term is defined in Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f) under the Exchange Act) during the quarter ended December 31, 2023 that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, the Company’s internal control over financial reporting.
ITEM 9B.    OTHER INFORMATION
Rule 10b5-1 Trading Plans
During the three months ended December 31, 2023, none of our directors or officers (as defined in Rule 16a-1(f) under the Exchange Act) adopted or terminated any contract, instruction or written plan for the purchase or sale of our securities that was intended to satisfy the affirmative defense conditions or Rule 10b5-1(c) under the Exchange Act or any "non-Rule 10b5-1 trading arrangement" (as defined in Item 408(c) of Regulation S-K).
ITEM 9C.    DISCLOSURE REGARDING FOREIGN JURISDICTIONS THAT PREVENT INSPECTIONS
Not applicable.
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PART III