Broadband growth has slowed considerably and telcos made back some ground from cable competitors towards the end of 2008 according to the latest research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG). Broadband growth slowed in 2008 by 36%, compared to 2007, and by 48% compared with 2006, which was the peak of broadband growth. Total broadband growth equaled 5.4 million in 2008, compared with 8.5 million in 2007 and 10.4 million in 2006. The total number of broadband subscribers in the U.S. doubled in the past four years to reach nearly 68 million, says LRG.
The largest telcos and cable providers continue to increase market share. Cable industry broadband leader Comcast added 1.336 million net subscribers in 2008 while its telco counterpart AT&T added 921,000, bringing their total year end 2008 broadband subscriber bases to 14.929 million and 15.077 million subscribers respectively.
Cable was ‘cleaning telecom’s clock’ with broadband earlier in 2008, but telcos made somewhat of a comeback in the last quarter, primarily due to aggressive marketing campaigns on price and the success of AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS bundles. Telcos added about 570,000 subscribers while cable providers added about 460,000 net new subscribers, resulting in over 1 million net adds for Q42008.
Total US broadband subscribers reached 67.675 million as of the end of last year. The largest cable companies’ accounted for 36.937 million (55%) and the largest telcos 30.737 million (45%). The top cable companies added 3.2 million broadband subscribers last year while the top telcos added 2.2 million. At 5.4 million, 2008 net adds were the lowest in the seven years LRG has been tracking the figure. The slowing growth can be attributed to a weak economy, particularly in housing starts, and an approaching broadband saturation point.