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US cable operators, including Comcast and Charter are reaping the benefits of a growing broadband market, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, who note that they added 3.3 million new subscribers in the 12 months from April 2015 through March 2016, helping drive total fixed broadband household penetration to nearly 80 per cent. Cable’s market share in broadband subscriptions has increased to more than 62 per cent, with Fiber remaining flat at 23 per cent and DSL declining to 15 per cent of US subscriptions.
The Strategy Analytics Service Provider Strategies (SPS) service report – US Cable Operators Driving Fixed Broadband Penetration Higher – indicates that the top nineteen tracked operators in the US saw strong growth continue into the first quarter of 2016, with more than 1 million new subscribers added during the period. AT&T and Verizon continued to face challenges, as Verizon lost 10,000 subscribers and AT&T added only 5,000.
“The reality is, fixed broadband is continuing to grow in the US, and not being replaced by mobile broadband as some have reported,” said Jason Blackwell, Director of the Service Provider Strategies service (SPS) at Strategy Analytics. “The cable operators are driving the growth with increased speeds and multiplay bundles. During 2015, Comcast accounted for 44 per cent of new subscribers and the companies forming the New Charter made up another 47 per cent of new subscribers. The Telco operators haven’t been able to shake off the losses of DSL subscribers, but we expect to see increased fibre deployments in the coming quarters, which should help AT&T and Verizon return to growth,” he advised.
While mobile broadband is not yet replacing fixed services, Wi-Fi is playing an important role in the future plans of service providers. Cable operators have rolled out Wi-Fi networks as part of their mobility strategy, and these deployments will continue to grow. Charter has pledged to deploy an additional 300,000 hotspots as a condition of the recently closed merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
“Wi-Fi will allow cable operators to more effectively compete for quad-play customers without the expense of creating and managing a mobile network. Combined with MVNO relationships, Wi-Fi can create a compelling service offer, making the cable companies more competitive with the traditional mobile operators,” he suggested.