A recent report by Strategy Analytics found that mobile broadband poses no immediate threat for replacing US cable operators' fixed broadband services.
“The reality is, fixed broadband is continuing to grow in the US, and (is) not being replaced by mobile broadband as some have reported,” said Jason Blackwell, director of the service provider Strategies service at Strategy Analytics Inc. "The cable operators are driving the growth with increased speeds and multi-play bundles."
All told, cable operators added 3.3 million new subscribers from April 2015 through March 2016, helping to drive total fixed broadband household penetration to nearly 80%. Cable’s market share in broadband subscriptions increased to more than 62%, while fiber stayed flat at 23% and DSL continued its downward spiral to 15% of US subscriptions.
"During 2015, Comcast accounted for 44% of new subscribers and the companies forming the New Charter made up another 47% of new subscribers," Blackwell said. "The telco operators haven’t been able to shake off the losses of DSL subscribers, but we expect to see increased fiber deployments in the coming quarters, which should help AT&T and Verizon return to growth.”
With the overall decline in video subscribers -- with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) being a recent exception -- broadband has become the lifeblood of US cable operators, both large and small. The report by Strategy Analytics said that the top 19 US cable operators saw their broadband growth continue in the most recent first quarter. Those cable operators added more than 1 million new subscribers in the first quarter. By contrast, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) lost 10,000 broadband subscribers while AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) added just 5,000.
While mobile broadband won't be replacing fixed broadband in the near term, Blackwell was bullish on cable's WiFi opportunities. As part of the recently closed deals to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)
and Bright House Networks , Charter Communications Inc. said it would deploy an additional 300,000 access points.
"Combined with MVNO relationships, Wi-Fi can create a compelling service offering, making the cable companies more competitive with the traditional mobile operators," Blackwell said.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation