Cable Still Dominates Telcos, But Broadband Growing is Slowing

The latest quarterly broadband subscriber numbers indicates that cable broadband providers continue to dominate phone companies that have refused to upgrade their networks at scale. According to the latest data from the Leichtman Research Group[1], cable providers added 540,000 subscribers during the third quarter, while phone companies saw a net loss of 155,000 subscriber during the same period. Overall however growth has slowed, with this year’s third quarter additions comprising just 61% of those added in the third quarter one year ago.

So far in 2017, Leichtman notes that cable companies added about 2,000,000 broadband subscribers, while telcos lost about 430,000 subscribers.

“Major providers now account for over 94.5 million broadband subscribers in the US, yet the broadband market is still expanding with cable providers continuing to drive the growth,” said Bruce Leichtman, president of the firm. “Over the past year, cable companies added about than 2.86 million broadband subscribers, accounting for 124% of the 2.3 million net broadband additions.”

Leichtman can’t be bothered to explain why this is happening, but the primary reason is telcos failure to upgrade aging DSL lines across vast swath of their networks. AT&T and Verizon have shifted their focus to media and advertising, and have quite literally been trying to drive these unwanted users to cable. Smaller telcos like Windstream, Frontier and CenturyLink are similarly more interested in profitable business services than upgrading aging DSL lines.

As a result, cable providers are running away with a greater fixed-line broadband monopoly across huge swaths of the country.

The end result?

Higher prices, more usage caps, and the same kind of abysmal customer service the sector has long been known for.

The federal government’s decision to gut net neutrality and privacy protections[2] for consumers in these markets will likely only compound the problem.


  1. ^ latest data from the Leichtman Research Group (
  2. ^ gut net neutrality and privacy protections (

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