The largest cable and wireline phone providers all saw significant broadband growth in 2020, according to a research from Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG). Cable broadband continues to dominate total net broadband adds, aided by a drag on telcos from DSL losses.

According to the research, the cable and wireline providers controlling about 96% of the market added 4.86 million net additional broadband internet subscribers in 2020, the most in any year since 2008, likely due in part to the pandemic.

In 2019, broadband growth gains reached about 2.55 million subscribers, according to LRG research.

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These top broadband providers now account for 105.8 million subscribers, with top cable companies having 72.8 million broadband subscribers, and top wireline phone companies having 33 million subscribers.

Comcast, Charter, and Cox, respectively, are the top three cable providers. The top three wireline phone providers, in order, are AT&T, Verizon and Century Link/Lumen.

Among other findings from the broadband growth report:

  • Top cable companies added about 4.82 million subscribers in 2020 after adding about 3.145 million in 2019. The 4.82 million is the most in any year since 2006
  • Charter added 2.215 million broadband customers in 2020, the largest amount since 2006.
  • Top wireline phone companies added about 40,000 subscribers in 2020, partially reversing a loss of 590,000 in 2019 and marking the first net additions since 2014.

“With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more net broadband additions in 2020 than in any year since 2008,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, said in a prepared statement about the data.

Large telcos have all but abandoned DSL and are focused more on fiber broadband. Large telcos like AT&T and Verizon actually saw record growth for fiber broadband during this period, but when combined with their DSL losses, their net new broadband growth suffers as a result.

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