The number of residential customers taking broadband service from the nation’s smaller rate of return carriers more than doubled between December 2010 and December 2012 – increasing 114%, according to a report released from the FCC this week. In comparison, the number of residential customers taking broadband service from the nation’s largest price cap carriers increased 61% over the same period.
The report from the Wireline Competition Bureau, titled “Universal Service Implementation Progress Report,” was based on data collected from carriers. Broadband was defined as any landline connection providing data rates of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream.
Data collected about business customers showed a similar trend. Rate of return carriers saw a 97% increase in broadband customers, while price cap carriers saw an increase of 65%.
The difference between what rate of return and price cap carriers experienced may reflect the higher level of competition that price cap carriers face. Although higher-speed services from the large telcos are seeing gains, telco DSL offerings have been hit hard by broadband services from cable companies, which tend to support higher data rates.
Rate of return telcos saw financial gains
The FCC also collects financial information from the rate of return carriers. Based on a sample of 50 rate of return carriers (out of a total of several hundred), the FCC found that between 2011 and 2012, total revenues for those carriers increased 4.4%, telephone plant in service increased 6.6% and total assets increased 5.6%.
The commission probably doesn’t collect the same information from price cap carriers because those companies are required to report that information in annual reports and other financial filings.