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UPC plans digital rollout

Revs up $76 mil amid net losses; Microsoft could be dropped

AMSTERDAM — Cable network operator United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC) will go forward with a planned rollout of its digital set-top boxes slated for September, but it might drop Microsoft as its main supplier of operational software, it said at a conference Tuesday announcing its second quarter and half-year earnings.

The company posted a rise in revenues in the second quarter to 238 million euro ($217 million), up from $76 million in the same period in 1999, and nearly tripled its half-year revenues to $399 million from $137 million in the same period a year ago.

Losses mount

But UPC also reported massive net losses of some $761 million in the year’s first half, up from $125 million and $335 million in the second quarter, five times its losses of $66 million in the same quarter a year ago.

UPC CEO Mark Schneider discounted the net losses, saying operational efficiencies would reduce the losses before interest, depreciation, amortization and stock-option costs that the company said will be less than $341 million at the end of this year.

Schneider also said an expected failure on the part of Microsoft to deliver its software product on time would not delay a planned digital rollout of set-top computer boxes in Amsterdam, the testing ground for the long-talked-about introduction of its digital platform across Europe.

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