Comcast's Challenge

With telco competitors trying to grab subscribers, the cable company steps up to the fight

Illustration by Joe Ciardiello for TIME

The Comcast Kingdom's new 56-story castle in Philadelphia's Center City is gilt-edged--a gleaming obelisk, from its flushless urinals to the sumptuous cafeteria named for the company's 88-year-old co-founder Ralph Roberts. "The tallest [building] between New York and Chicago," gushes the hometown Inquirer.

Erecting a corporate monument is often the kiss of death. But Comcast leases the building, perhaps a more fitting tribute to Roberts, a suspenders-and-belt salesman who parlayed a tiny system in Tupelo, Miss., into the nation's largest cable-TV operation, with 24 million subscribers and $31 billion in annual revenue.

Despite not-bad first-half financial results, these are cautious times for...