Report: Broadband Additions Down 2nd Consecutive Year

DURHAM, N.H. -- Broadband additions for consumers are down a second year in a row, according to a new report issued by Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

The study found that the 20 largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. -- representing about 94 percent of the market -- acquired more than 5.4 million additional high-speed Internet subscribers in 2008. The annual net broadband additions were down compared to the 8.5 million in 2007, and a peak of 10.4 million in 2006. Additionally, they were the fewest in the seven years that LRG has tracked the broadband industry.

Lecihtman reports the top broadband providers now account for nearly 67.7 million subscribers: Cable outlets claim 36.9 million broadband subscribers; telephone companies have 30.7 million.

The study said total broadband additions in 2008 were 63 percent of the total in 2007 and top cable companies added 3.2 million broadband subscribers in 2008, just 77 percent of the total net additions in 2007.

The telephone broadband segment added 2.2 million broadband subscribers in 2008, only half of the total net additions for the prior year, while top cable companies netted 59 percent of 2008 broadband additions.

The report notes that in the fourth quarter of 2008, cable and telephone providers added more than 1 million broadband subscribers, with telephone companies adding about 570,000 subscribers and cable companies adding about 460,000 subscribers in the quarter.

"The total number of broadband subscribers in the U.S. doubled in the past four years, growing to nearly 68 million at the end of 2008," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research. "With increased market penetration, growth inevitably had to slow, but there was still room for 5.4 million more broadband subscribers in 2008."

Is there more room beyond that or have broadband additions petered-out due to a combination of market saturation and tightening budgets for those who'd like to make the switch from other services? The 2009 report a year from now will tell that tale.

View the Leichtman Research report.