The telcos had a good run, and for more than three years used aggressive pricing to add more broadband subscribers than cable. But now that the discounts are largely gone, DSL is on the wane. Leichtman Research Group added up the numbers for Q1 and the 19 top cable companies added 1.19 million subscribers in the quarter, compared to 1.01 million for the phone companies in the same period.
Since the third quarter of 2004, DSL had been adding customers at a faster clip than cable, cutting into cable’s overall lead. But now that’s over and the total subscriber numbers stand at 34.7 million for cable vs 29.5 million for DSL.
Explains Leichtman president Bruce Leichtman: “With telephone companies generally curtailing prior aggressive price-based offers to woo subscribers, the Telcos added about two-thirds as many broadband subscribers as a year ago.”
Just as likely: As people started using the Internet for more than Web surfing and email — like watching videos, downloading music, etc. — they upgraded to cable modems, which are usually much faster than DSL. Also: Phone companies have also been obnoxious about selling people “naked DSL” without a home-phone connection. As more people cut the cord — a study released today says more than 15% of Americans are wireless-only — it’s easier to get an Internet-only subsciption from cable companies than from telcos.
Big telcos like AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) now have a chance to win customers back: The fibre-based networks they’re building across the country are, in many cases, faster than what’s available from cable competitors, and by offering digital TV service, they’re able to match cable’s bundles feature-for-feature.