US cable operators continue to grow their customer base at the expense of telcos, as the broadband market swelled to 100.6 million subscribers by the third quarter of 2019, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group.
By the end of September, top cable operators had 67.1 million broadband subscribers and top telephone companies had 33.5 million subscribers, Leichtman Research determined. Combined, these top operators represented 96% of the US market. However, the market itself is growing as Tier 2 providers, regional operators and a growing number of utilities, coops and municipalities extend infrastructure into previously under- or unserved areas and bring broadband to brand new households and SMBs.
That trend is apparent in this report, which found broadband additions in Q3 2019 were 101% of the year-ago period. Top cable operators added approximately 830,000 subs in the most recent quarter, or 114% of the net add of 12 months ago.
Charter topped the list, adding 380,000 subs, while Comcast extended its base by 379,000 new customers, the researcher found. However, AT&T saw 123,000 subs depart, while beleaguered Frontier lost 71,000 broadband subs, the report said. (See New CEO Will Lead Frontier Communications' Future – Report.)
By comparison, however, telcos had a net loss of 225,000 in Q3 -- the biggest loss since Q2 2016, according to the research firm. Also, CSPs lost 3% market share to cable: In Q3 2018, telcos served 36% of broadband subscribers while cable operators connected 64%, Leichtman Research recorded.
"With the addition of 605,000 subscribers in the quarter, the top broadband Internet providers in the U.S. cumulatively account for over 100 million subscribers for the first time ever," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, in a release. "These top providers had about 5 million net broadband additions over the past two years, with top cable companies adding about 5.9 million broadband subscribers, and top telcos having a net loss of about 950,000 subscribers."
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