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A Look at Broadband Numbers in the United States: DSL Hurting Phone Companies

Lost more customers than it gained for the first time.

Phone companies depending on DSL to keep them in the broadband business are in growing trouble, unless they lack a nearby cable competitor. Subscriber numbers from nine different major phone and cable companies over the summer of 2012 show cable broadband continues to grow as customers cancel DSL service from their local phone company. But for rural customers, DSL often remains the only option. That leaves rural providers like Frontier, Windstream, and CenturyLink in better standing than larger companies like AT&T and Verizon.

Phone Companies

  • AT&T‘s U-verse service is the only thing keeping AT&T broadband numbers on the rise. AT&T added 553,000 new U-verse customers during the summer and now serves 6.5 million customers on its fiber-to-the-neighborhood network. AT&T continues to lose DSL customers, primarily to local cable competitors.
  • CenturyLink, Inc. has been upgrading its DSL service in several areas to better compete with cable broadband, and is also deploying a fiber-to-the-neighborhood service in select cities. The network upgrades are helping, bringing the company 18,000 new broadband customers. CenturyLink currently serves 5.76 million Internet customers nationwide.
  • Frontier Communications has lost broadband customers in its larger service areas, mostly to cable, but those losses have been offset by its DSL expansion in rural areas that have never had broadband before. But the company only managed to add just under 6,000 new broadband customers during the last quarter, serving 1.78 million customers across the country.
  • Verizon Communications: Verizon was willing to turn away potential DSL customers for the first time, as it discontinued selling DSL to those who don’t want Verizon landline service. That, and pervasive cable competition, meant Verizon only picked up 2,000 new DSL customers this quarter — the worst showing in four years. Verizon FiOS’ recent price hikes also cost the company some growth for its fiber to the home service,  but still earning a respectable 134,000 new customers (5.1 million total). Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, and Comcast have all managed to win back FiOS customers with attractive discount offers.
  • Windstream Corp. faces cable competition in a number of its semi-rural service areas, and its DSL service has not been able to keep up with the growing speeds available to cable broadband subscribers. For the first time, Windstream reported it lost more customers than it added, losing 2,200 DSL subscribers. Windstream still has 1.36 million customers signed up for its broadband service.

Cablevision has won back some of its former customers who went with Verizon FiOS but do not like the recent rate hikes.

Cable Companies

  • Cablevision, which serves mostly suburban New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut added 25,000 new high speed customers, many coming back to the cable company from Verizon. Cablevision serves a relatively small geographic area, but a densely populated one. Nearly 3 million broadband customers have remained loyal to the cable company.
  • Charter Cable picked up 37,000 new broadband customers, a number fleeing phone company DSL for Charter’s higher speed broadband services. Charter serves 3.8 million broadband customers.
  • Comcast added 156,000 new customers to its roster of 18.7 million Internet customers, again mostly from former DSL customers.
  • Time Warner Cable expanded with 59,000 new high speed customers, primarily from DSL disconnects. Time Warner provides service for 10.8 million broadband customers.
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  • Dave Hancock: I don't know where AP lives, but in MOST areas of the country MOST people do not have any choice for High Speed Internet (15mbps or above) - it is the...
  • tacitus: That doesn't sound right. Are you in some sort of contract? Where in the country is this?...
  • AP: Good luck cutting cable if you live in an area that has one cable, internet, and phone company like I do. If you want internet or phone with the cable...
  • Dave Hancock: Soon the rest of the cable companies will follow Verizon's lead and start limiting the input bandwidth to their systems (ex: Netflix) to discourage su...
  • Milan in Austin: Cable TV is an obsolete product! I suggest everyone seriously consider dropping cable television. I cut the cord in August of 2013, and don't miss ca...
  • gsuburban: I have to agree that Verizon is not interested in providing its customers with a "clear pipe" due to the politics of peer-to-peer data sharing or what...
  • Scott: Not good, that takes away all your leverage in the situation. If you're holding the money you can work through the BBB or try and negotiate with the ...
  • Hudson Mohawk Press: We knew it couldn't last forever. Starting this month Time Warner Cable of NYC is charging Earthlink Internet customers a $5.99 modem lease fee. The w...
  • Eric: Frontier still sucks..Their service still sucks..they are still a ripofff...
  • punki: Thanks Scott, unfortunately mine is already paid......
  • Scott: Personally I'd refuse to pay, there's no way that's actual usage....
  • punki: Hi guys, I'm exactly in the same situation (also with almost $3000), any feedback will be really appreciated. Thanks,...

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