Comcast Coax Cable Recycling

Broadband providers continued a run of good years with a net gain of 2.95 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 2021, according to Leichtman Research Group (LRG). 

The gains followed a banner 2020 when the industry had a pro forma gain of 4.86 million subscribers, and additions of 2.55 million subscribers in 2019.

The companies tracked represent about 96% of the market. That group now accounts for about 108.4 million subscribers. It is split between cable companies (about 75.7 million subscribers) and phone companies (about 32.7 million subscribers). 

Other key findings for 2021:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 2021 were 61% of the total in 2020, and 115% of the total in 2019
  • The top cable companies had about 2.8 million net adds in 2021, 58% of the cable broadband additions in 2020 and 89% of additions in 2019
  • The top wireline phone companies added about 150,000 subscribers in 2021 – compared to a gain of about 30,000 subscribers in 2020, and a net loss of about 590,000 subscribers in 2019
  • Telcos had about 1.8 million net adds via fiber in 2021 – compared to about 1.64 million fiber net adds in 2020
  • Among these top providers, cable companies accounted for 95% of the net broadband adds in 2021

“Broadband additions proved to be resilient in 2021 following 2020’s pandemic-related surge in subscribers,” Bruce Leichtman, the president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a press release.  “The top broadband providers added significantly fewer subscribers in 2021 than in 2020, but the net adds in 2021 were higher than in each year from 2016-2019.”

The cable sector had about 2.8 million net adds. The top five biggest providers are Comcast (with 31.9 million total subscribers, up about 1.33 million in 2021), Charter (30.1 million, up 1.2 million), Cox (5.5 million, up 150,000), Altice (4.4 million, down 3,400) and Mediacom (1.46 million, up 25,000).

The topic wireline phone companies had 148,000 net adds. The five biggest providers are AT&T (15.5 million subscribers, up about 120,000 in 2021), Verizon (7.37  million, up 236,000), CenturyLink/Lumen (4.5 million, down 248,000), Frontier (2.8 million, down 35,000) and Windstream (1.17 million, up 55,200).

The gain of 4.86 million net additional subscribers in 2020 was the most in any year since 2008. The increase was no doubt made possible by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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