While the broadband business didn’t pick up in 2021, the largest phone and cable providers in the US still garnered more than 2.95 million new subscribers, according to Litchman Research Group, a consultancy that tracks telecom customer trends.
That’s less than the total of 4.9 million new customers, Leachman reported for 2020, when the pandemic forced so many more people to work from home, but above the estimated 2.5 million who added broadband in 2019.
Leichtman says these numbers cover a group of firms representing 96% of the broadband market, with 6% reflecting non-residential subscriptions in 2020. Most of these figures come from earnings announcements, but Leachman made his estimates for privately held firms. Cox.
Cable accounted for nearly all of 2020’s growth, 2.8 million more changes, and much of that came from sign-ups from the two largest Internet providers in the US. Comcast added 1.33 million subscribers for its Xfinity service to reach a total of 31.9 million, and Charter’s Spectrum service brought 1.2 million new customers to 30 million.
Of the eight cable operators counted in Leichtman’s survey, only Altis lost its business, with some 3,400 customers cutting that cord. One possible factor: Its Optimum service took a cut in upload speeds last July, with customers on its 100Mbps tier seeing their upstream bandwidth increase from 35Mbps to 5Mbps.
But where wireline-phone companies lost some 620,000 customers in 2019 and fell to less than 40,000 in 2020, they rose to a respectable 140,000 last year.
Verizon, which is converting older copper circuits to fiber to expand the reach of its Fios fiber-optic service, contributed most of that growth, picking up another 236,000 customers. AT&T, which recently rolled out its round of fiber upgrades, which include connections up to 5Gbps, gained 120,000 new customers.
Two services that relied more heavily on the older DSL, Frontier and Lumen’s CenturyLink, lost customers, the former dropping 35,000 and the latter 248,000.
Most of the ISPs tracked by Leichtman also showed PCMag’s Reader’s Choice rankings last year, and the results there used value-judging adjectives like “popular” rather than “widely used” for some of these services. argues against. For example, while AT&T and Verizon’s Fiber services ranked highly among PCMag readers, with scores of 7.9 and 8.1, Comcast’s Xfinity and Charter Spectrum came halfway down with scores of 6.9 and 6.8 out of 10. .
Update 3/8: Leichtman also released a recap of 2021 subscription totals among top pay-TV providers today, showing that nearly 4.69 million people gave up pay-TV accounts last year.