Leichtman Research Group: U.S. broadband growth returns to pre-pandemic levels in Q3-2021

Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. – representing about 96% of the market – acquired about 630,000 net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 3Q 2021, compared to a pro forma gain of about 1,525,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020, about 615,000 in 3Q 2019, and about 600,000 in 3Q 2018.

These top broadband providers now account for about 107.9 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 75.2 million broadband subscribers, and top wireline phone companies having about 32.7 million subscribers.

Findings for the 3rd /quarter include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2021 were 41% of those in 3Q 2020
  • The top cable companies added about 590,000 subscribers in 3Q 2021 – 45% of the net additions for the top cable companies in 3Q 2020
  • The top wireline phone companies added about 40,000 total broadband subscribers in 3Q 2021 – compared to about 200,000 net adds in 3Q 2020.  Telcos had about 475,000 net adds via fiber in 3Q 2021, and about 435,000 non-fiber net losses

“Broadband additions returned to pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2021,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “The top broadband providers added significantly fewer subscribers than in last year’s third quarter, but had a similar number of net adds as in 3Q 2019 and 3Q 2018.”

Broadband Providers/ Subscribers at end of 3Q 2021// Net Adds in 3Q 2021/
Cable Companies
Comcast 31,688,000 300,000
Charter 29,899,000 265,000
Cox* 5,510,000 25,000
Altice 4,388,100 (13,200)
Mediacom 1,466,000 (2,000)
Cable One 1,030,000 13,000
Atlantic Broadband^ 717,000 3,000
WOW (WideOpenWest)^ 509,500 1,600
Total Top Cable 75,207,600 592,400
Wireline Phone Companies
AT&T 15,510,000 29,000
Verizon^^ 7,337,000 74,000
CenturyLink/Lumen 4,589,000 (77,000)
Frontier 2,789,000 (9,000)
Windstream 1,147,000 15,200
TDS 522,800 9,200
Cincinnati Bell* 439,000 1,200
Consolidated 390,661 (2,819)
Total Top Telco    32,724,461 39,781

References:

About 630,000 Added Broadband in 3Q 2021

 

Cable broadband subscriber growth slows while FTTx and FWA gain ground

Cable network operators (cablecos or MSOs) are losing ground to FTTP/FTTx (fiber to the premises/ cabinet/ home) and FWA (fixed wireless access).

  • Bloomberg reports that cable broadband growth is sputtering and no one knows why.
  • GlobalData agrees, but forecasts a solid increase in U.S. fixed-broadband lines.

Broadband internet subscriber growth at Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc has decreased, raising concerns about an end to what has been a huge growth business, with explanations ranging from a slowdown in consumer spending to competition from phone giants.

Charter on Friday reported 25% fewer new broadband subscribers than analysts estimated and said the overall number of new customers would fall back to 2018 levels.  Charter had 1.27 million new broadband customers in 2018 compared with 2.2 million last year. Analysts predict it will add 1.4 million subscribers this year, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Comcast, which had earlier cut its subscriber forecast, reported 300,000 new internet customers Thursday, less than half the number added a year ago.

Analysts were expecting some slowdown in demand coming off 2020, a year when broadband sign-ups spiked as the pandemic shifted people to working and schooling from home. Still, with Charter echoing Comcast’s gloomy picture from Thursday, suddenly there’s a chill on the cable broadband front, which became the most prized segment of the business as consumers cut traditional TV service.

Charter’s shortfall raises “questions about whether this is the beginning of the end of the cable broadband story,” said Geetha Ranganathan, an industry analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

GlobalData forecasts that cable’s share of total U.S. fixed broadband subscriptions will decline to 67.1% by the end of 2026, from 68% in 2021, as other technologies such as fiber and fixed wireless expand their presence. Total U.S. fixed-broadband lines, including fiber, fixed wireless and cable, will increase from 103.1 million in 2021 to 112.3 million by 2026 says the market research firm.

No one has been able to identify the exact reason why the wind has gone out of the sails for big cable. Both Charter and Comcast blamed a slower new home market for some of the slack in demand, leaving the companies to try and squeeze more business out of their saturated markets.  Other factors could include a drop off in lower-paying customers as government assisted broadband funds dry up.

Even as Comcast and Charter deploy new faster network technology to attract more lucrative customers, cable’s share of the market is starting to shrink, according to Tammy Parker, a senior analyst with GlobalData.

Total U.S. broadband lines will increase to 112.3 million by the end of 2026 from 103.1 million in 2021, including new wireless internet customers, the market research firm predicts.

The number of U.S. fiber lines will grow at a CAGR of 10.8% to reach 28.2 million lines by the end of 2026. This growth will be due to rising demand for high-speed internet services in the nation, and efforts by the government and operators to expand FTTx networks.

References:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-30/cable-broadband-growth-is-sputtering-and-no-one-s-sure-why

https://www.telecomlead.com/broadband/number-of-us-fiber-lines-to-reach-28-2-mn-by-2026-102290

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/multi-gig-competition-to-heat-up-as-fiber-takes-center-stage-globaldata

 

Kagan: U.S. Broadband Market Continues to Grow

The U.S. is still experiencing robust growth in fixed broadband connections, driven predominately by the cable market, according to a new report published this week.  Meanwhile, download speeds are increasing faster than expected due to cable companies and new telco FTTH deployments.

U.S. broadband gains illustrated durable demand for wireline connections in the second quarter, allaying fears of a 2021 hangover, according to Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. While the 945,000 new broadband subs in second quarter 2021 fall short of the year-ago boom, that increase far exceeds the second-quarter 2019 figure that cable operators have been pointing to as a more likely template for current-year success.

The combined residential cable, telco and satellite broadband subscribers topped 109.2 million at the end of the second quarter, up 4.3% annually with nearly 4.5 million net adds year over year, according to Kagan’s full industry estimates.

The U.S. broadband market soared in the first half of 2020 as Covid-19 drove working from home to new levels and customers felt the need for more reliable – and faster – Internet connections. Kagan last year noted that the number of residential wireline subscribers with a broadband service of 100 Mbps or more increased by 5.5% in the first six months of 2020, compared with end-2019.

Additional takeaways from Kagan’s Q2 2021 report:  

  • Cable subscriber growth in the first half was down from the outsized gains of the pandemic-boosted demand for connectivity. But with 1.9 million residential and commercial net adds year-to-date, cable accounted for 96% of broadband customer gains across the U.S. cable, telco and satellite segments in the first six months of 2021.
  • The surging enthusiasm for FTTH upgrades is boosting telco wireline broadband net adds, albeit at relative magnitudes. While the segment’s residential net adds in the second quarter pale in comparison to cable’s growth, it represents a dramatic improvement over the second quarter track record since 2016.
  • Combined, the established satellite broadband providers lost 24,000 U.S. subscribers while Starlink begins to establish early momentum.

Kagan declined to share figures for growth in net broadband additions for Q2 last year, simply stating that the 2021 numbers “fall short of the year-ago boom.” However, Q2 this year was far ahead of the same period in 2019, which it – and the industry itself – would serve as a more accurate benchmark for future growth. In the second quarter of 2019, wireline broadband net adds came in at 339,000.

The overall residential broadband market in the US reached 109.2 million subscribers at the end of June, an increase of 4.3% year-on-year; net adds over the 12 months hit nearly 4.5 million. Again, Kagan did not provide comparative figures. As per the above chart, residential broadband penetration is now above 83%, rising to 84.5% if satellite broadband is included.

The cable companies are still leading the U.S. broadband market. 1.9 million net additions in the first half of the year across the residential and commercial sectors give cablecos/MSOs a 96% share, leaving the telco and satellite providers sharing the remaining 4%, or just under 80,000 customers.

With the satellite broadband companies together losing 24,000 customers over that period, that means the telcos probably signed up at least 100,000 new customers in the first half of 2021.

The Need for Speed:

As of June 30, Kagan estimates that 78.4% of residential wireline subscribers took download speeds of 100Mbps and above. With speed and bandwidth at the forefront of consumers’ minds, the 1Gbps tier logged the largest increase.

Subscribers taking 1 Gig or higher rose to an estimated 7.8% of the residential broadband universe in the second quarter of 2020, up from 4.3% at year-end 2019.

The under 25 Mbps tier fell to 2.7% of wireline broadband households or 2.8 million subscribers for whom slower speeds likely impeded in-home online activities, including entertainment, during the pandemic. The telco sector, still somewhat held back by legacy copper systems, accounted for the vast majority of the lower end speed category, with an estimated 87.2% of all wireline broadband subscribers in the below 25 Mbps category.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/demand-prolongs-us-broadband-boom-through-mid-2021-301357506.html

https://telecoms.com/511015/no-covid-hangover-in-us-broadband-market-yet/

https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/blog/us-broadband-households-shift-into-higher-gear-in-h120-1-gig-adoption-soars

Dell’Oro: Broadband Access equipment spending increased 18% YoY

A newly published Broadband Access and Home Networking 1stQ2021 report by Dell’Oro Group stated that the total global revenue for the Broadband Access equipment market increased to $3.3B in 1st Quarter, up 18 percent year-over-year (YoY).  The growth was driven by strong fiber infrastructure investments such as PON (Passive Optical Network) OLT (Optical Line Terminal) ports, particularly 10 Gbps PON technologies.

XGS-PON revenue jumped 500% year-on-year to about $200 million, reflecting several quarters of steady growth as fiber players up their game in anticipation of competition from cable operators deploying DOCSIS 4.0.

“The shift to 10 Gbps PON technologies is happening quickly and on a global basis,” noted Jeff Heynen, Vice President, Broadband Access and Home Networking at Dell’Oro Group. “The only thing preventing further expansions are supply chain constraints and increased costs,” Heynen explained.
“You can see the trajectory. It’s very clear that operators, if they’re deploying new fiber networks, in a lot of cases they’re doing so starting off with 10-gig. And even those that are beginning the process of upgrading from the first-generation GPON technologies they’re also doing so with XGS,” Heynen said. “This trend was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
“I think what has happened among operators, particularly in North America, is that they’re starting to realize that if we deploy more fiber and we do so with multi-gigabit capabilities then we’re putting ourselves in a position to anticipate and at least already be competitive with that DOCSIS 4.0 rollout.”
Additional highlights from the 1Q 2021 Broadband Access and Home Networking quarterly report:
  • Total broadband access equipment revenue was down 6 percent from the record revenue of 4Q 2020.
  • Total cable access concentrator revenue (a category that includes DOCSIS infrastructure elements such as converged cable access platform cores and chassis, virtual CCAP licensing and DAA nodes and modules) increased 15 percent YoY to $243 M.
  • Though DOCSIS license purchases were down, new hardware purchases in the form of CCAP chassis, line cards, and DAA nodes and modules helped push revenue higher.
  • CommScope led the cable access concentrator market with about 40% of revenues in Q1 2021, followed by Cisco (16%), Harmonic (16%) and Casa Systems (15%).
  • 80% of DOCSIS modems shipped in Q1 2021 were of the DOCSIS 3.1 variety.
  • Revenue from purchases of remote-PHY and remote MAC-PHY equipment were up 66% from Q4 2020, which can be interpreted as a sign that cable operators are resuming long-term projects that were put on hold during the height of the pandemic last year.
  • Total DSL Access Concentrator revenue was down 30 percent YoY, driven by slower port shipments worldwide as more operators shift their spending to fiber.
  • Total PON ONT (Optical Network Terminal which is CPE) revenue was down quarter over quarter, but unit shipments remained above 30M globally for the second straight quarter.

About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group Broadband Access and Home Networking Quarterly Report provides a complete overview of the Broadband Access market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, and port/unit shipments for Cable, DSL, and PON equipment. Covered equipment includes Converged Cable Access Platforms (CCAP) and Distributed Access Architectures (DAA); Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers ([DSLAMs] by technology ADSL/ADSL2+, G.SHDSL, VDSL, VDSL Profile 35b, and G.FAST); PON Optical Line Terminals (OLTs), Cable, DSL, and PON CPE (Customer Premises Equipment); and SOHO WLAN Equipment, including Mesh Routers. For more information about the report, please contact dgsales@delloro.com

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Long term, MoffetNathanson analysts forecast cable operators (MSOs) having a 50% broadband share in the markets where they compete with FTTH—significantly less than cable’s 85% market share against VDSL and 95% market share against DSL.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/continued-strong-fiber-investments-push-result-in-18-percent-yy-growth-in-broadband-equipment-spending-according-to-delloro-group-301310595.html

Will Cable Broadband Market Share Decline as Telcos Deploy Fiber?

 

Leichtman Research Group: Top U.S. Broadband Providers Add; PayTV Providers Lose Subscribers in 2020

Leichtman Research Group reports that largest U.S. broadband network providers added almost twice as many fixed subscribers in 2020 as they did the previous year, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  However, some large broadband providers (like AT&T) lost customers.

The largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. – representing about 96% of the market – acquired about 4,860,000 net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 2020, compared to a pro forma gain of about 2,550,000 subscribers in 2019.

These top broadband providers now account for 105.8 million subscribers, with top cable companies having 72.8 million broadband subscribers, and top wireline phone companies having 33 million subscribers.

Comcast and Charter accounted for 4.19 million, or 86%, of the total number of net additions, with the other six cablecos’ adds coming in significantly lower, ranging from 210,000 for Cox to just under 38,000 for Atlantic Broadband.

For wireline telcos, the best performance came from Verizon, which added a fairly respectable 173,000 fixed broadband customers, but three of the eight posted net customer losses.  In particular, AT&T’s net broadband losses came in at 5,000 while CenturyLink and Frontier both lost well over 100,000 customers.

[As per the report below, AT&T’s DirecTV lost more than 3.26 million subscribers which was ~60% of all U.S. pay TV losses in 2020.]

Notes:

*    LRG estimate

**   Includes recent small acquisitions/sales and LRG pro forma estimates

^    Frontier’s total for 4Q 2020 is an LRG estimate due to later year-end reporting

TDS includes 283,900 wireline broadband subscribers, and 209,400 cable broadband subscribers

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Key findings for the year 2020 include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 2020 were 190% of those in 2019, and more than in any year since 2008
  • Top cable and wireline phone companies represent approximately 96% of all subscribers
  • The top cable companies added about 4,820,000 subscribers in 2020 – compared to about 3,145,000 net adds in 2019, and the most in any year since 2006
    • Charter’s 2,215,000 net broadband additions in 2020 were more than any company had in a year since 2006
  • The top wireline telecom companies added about 40,000 subscribers in 2020 – compared to a loss of about 590,000 subscribers in 2019
    • Telcos had positive net annual broadband adds for the first year since 2014
  • At the end of 2020, cable had a 69% market share vs. 31% for Telcos

“With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more net broadband additions in 2020 than in any year since 2008,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc (LRG).  “The top cable and Telco broadband providers in the U.S. cumulatively added about 4,860,000 subscribers in 2020, compared to about 5,100,000 subscribers in 2018 and 2019 combined.”

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Separately, LRG found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. – representing about 95% of the market – lost about 5,120,000 net video subscribers in 2020, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 4,795,000 in 2019.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 81.3 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 43.9 million video subscribers, satellite TV services having about 21.8 million subscribers, the top telephone companies having 7.9 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services having 7.7 million subscribers.

AT&T had a net loss of about 3,260,000 subscribers across its four pay-TV services (DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV NOW) in 2020 – compared to a net loss of about 4,095,000 subscribers in 2019.

AT&T “Premium TV” services (not including the vMVPD service AT&T TV NOW) lost 15.3% of subscribers in 2020 – compared to a 4.6% loss among all other traditional pay-TV services.

Key findings for the year include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 3,440,000 subscribers in 2020 – compared to a loss of about 3.700,000 subscribers in 2019
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 1,915,000 video subscribers in 2020 – compared to a loss of about 1,560,000 subscribers in 2019
  • The top telco TV companies lost about 405,000 video subscribers in 2020 – compared to a loss of about 630,000 subscribers in 2019
  • The top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T TV NOW, and fuboTV) added about 640,000 subscribers in 2020 – compared to about 1,095,000 net adds in 2019
  • Traditional pay-TV services (not including vMVPDs) lost about 5,765,000 subscribers in 2020 – compared to a net loss of about 5,890,000 in 2019

“Net pay-TV losses of over 5 million subscribers in 2020 were slightly higher than in 2019, and more than in any previous year,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc.  “Overall, the top pay-TV providers lost 5.9% of subscribers in 2020, compared to 5.2% in 2019.”

About Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) specializes in research and analysis on broadband, media and entertainment industries. LRG combines ongoing consumer surveys with industry tracking and analysis, to provide companies with a richer understanding of current market conditions, and the potential impact and adoption of new products and services. For more information about LRG, please call (603) 397-5400 or visit www.LeichtmanResearch.com.

References:

https://www.leichtmanresearch.com/about-4860000-added-broadband-from-top-providers-in-2020/

https://www.leichtmanresearch.com/major-pay-tv-providers-lost-about-5120000-subscribers-in-2020/

https://telecoms.com/508907/pandemic-provided-a-shot-in-the-arm-for-us-fixed-broadband/

After 9 years Alphabet pulls the plug on Loon; Another Google X “moonshot” bites the dust!

After nine years as the high-flyer of the Google X lab, Alphabet is ending Loon, which was one of the company’s high-profile, cutting-edge efforts.  Loon aimed at providing Internet access to rural and remote areas, creating wireless networks with up to 1 Mbit/second speeds using high-altitude balloons at altitudes between 18 and 25 km (11 and 16 miles). As for so many of Google X labs “moonshots,” it was difficult to turn Loon into a business.

“The road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped. So we’ve made the difficult decision to close down Loon,” Astro Teller, who heads Google X, wrote in a blog post. Alphabet said it expected to wind down operations in “the coming months” with the hope of finding other positions for Loon employees at Alphabet.

Sadly, despite the team’s groundbreaking technical achievements over the last 9 years — doing many things previously thought impossible, like precisely navigating balloons in the stratosphere, creating a mesh network in the sky, or developing balloons that can withstand the harsh conditions of the stratosphere for more than a year — the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped. So we’ve made the difficult decision to close down Loon. In the coming months, we’ll begin winding down operations and it will no longer be an Other Bet within Alphabet.

From the farmers in New Zealand who let us attach a balloon communications hub to their house in 2013, to our partners who made it possible to deliver essential connectivity to people following natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Peru, to our first commercial partners in Kenya, to the diverse organizations working tirelessly to find new ways to deliver connectivity from the stratosphere — thank you deeply. Loon wouldn’t have been possible without a community of innovators and risk-takers who are as passionate as we are about connecting the unconnected. And we hope we have reason to work together again before long.

The idea behind Loon was to bring cellular connectivity to remote parts of the world where building a traditional mobile network would be too difficult and too costly. Alphabet promoted the technology as a potentially promising way to bring internet connectivity to not just the “next billion” consumers but the “last billion.”

The giant helium balloons, made from sheets of polyethylene, are the size of tennis courts. They were powered by solar panels and navigated by flight control software that used artificial intelligence to drift efficiently in the stratosphere. While up in the air, they act as “floating cell towers,” transmitting internet signals to ground stations and personal devices.

A Loon launch site in Nevada.  The balloons aimed to bring cellular connectivity to remote parts of the world, but proved too costly.

Credit…Loon LLC, via Associated Press

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Google started working on Loon in 2011 and launched the project with a public test in 2013. Loon became a stand-alone subsidiary in 2018, a few years after Google became a holding company called Alphabet. In April 2019, it accepted a $125 million investment from a SoftBank unit called HAPSMobile to advance the use of “high-altitude vehicles” to deliver internet connectivity.

Last year, Google  announced the first commercial deployment of the Loon technology with Telkom Kenya to provide a 4G LTE network connection to a nearly 31,000-square-mile area across central and western Kenya, including the capital, Nairobi. Before then, the balloons had been used only in emergency situations, such as after Hurricane Maria knocked out Puerto Rico’s cellular network.  In closing down this pilot service in Kenya, Loom said it would pledge $10 million to Kenyan non-profits and businesses offering “connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship, and education.”

Loon was starting to run out of money and had turned to Alphabet to keep its business solvent while it sought another investor in the project, according to a November report in The Information.Image for post

The decision to shut down Loon is another signal of Alphabet’s recent austerity toward its ambitious and costly technology projects. Under Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s chief financial officer since 2015, the company has kept a close watch over the finances of its so-called Other Bets, fledgling business ventures aimed at diversifying from its core advertising business.

Alphabet has aggressively pushed its “Other Moonshot Bets” like Waymo and Verily, a life sciences unit, to accept outside investors and branch out on their own. Projects that failed to secure outside investment or show enough financial promise have been discarded, such as Makani, a project to produce wind energy kites that Alphabet shut down last year.

That austerity has been a notable change from a time when units like X, which had been a favored vanity project of Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had autonomy to spend freely to pursue ambitious technology projects even if the financial outlook remained unclear.

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Facebook’s efforts have likewise stumbled, with Mark Zuckerberg’s company deciding in 2018 to ground Aquila, its gigantic, solar-powered drone designed to deliver Internet by laser. “Surprisingly, it’s just not practical,” drolly commented Techcrunch. Instead, it is efforts to beam the net from satellites that seem to be meeting with higher-flying fortunes.

Starlink, the satellite network being built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, appears to be making fast progress – with 800 satellites, including 60 launched in November.

Its launch of services in the rural UK this month is bad news for OneWeb – which only just emerged from bankruptcy in November with new owners, the UK Government and Bharti Global. Analysts, though, think neither will provide too much of a threat to established Internet providers in urban are

For all that was innovative about its technology, Loon never turned a profit, and the company was tight-lipped about precisely how many users it ever had. It was never a matter of providing free Internet to the masses, but instead, of amplifying the reach of existing telecoms companies to rural populations, via the balloon network. Once connected, clients paid for the Internet, just like anybody else. It just seems there were not enough of them who did.

Its technical advances concerned a type of ballet, using its software system to predict how weather events could move its balloons, then adapting the balloons’ height in accord with wind currents to manipulate their position. The balloons usually lasted a few hundred days, after which they were directed to a landing zone – though the landings weren’t always as accurate as its engineers would have hoped.

References:

https://blog.x.company/loons-final-flight-e9d699123a96

https://medium.com/loon-for-all/loon-draft-c3fcebc11f3f

https://www.lightreading.com/services/google-pops-loon-balloon/d/d-id/766855?

 

 

 

Deloitte: India rural broadband penetration at 29.1%; fixed broadband at 7.5%; Challenges noted

Broadband penetration in India’s rural areas continues to be quite low at 29.1% against national average of 51% with 687 million subscribers as of March 2020, according to a new report by Deloitte titled “Broadband for inclusive development—social, economic, and business.” Also noteworthy, fixed broadband penetration in India.

Broadband penetration has grown at an impressive CAGR of 35% in India over the past three years (2017-2020). However, existing levels of broadband penetration in rural areas (29.1% penetration) and fixed broadband penetration (7.5% of Indian households) across the country offer significant opportunities for growth,” the report said.

Sathish Gopalaiah, Partner and Telecom Sector Leader Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP said, “This report briefly highlights the state of broadband in our country, how critical and transformative broadband can be for us, the key challenges holding back its growth potential, and certain key interventions that can be made through government policies, government spending, impetus to R&D and product development, and effective on-ground implementation of large initiatives.”

Gopalaiah said the country has witnessed significant progress in broadband in the last three years, primarily on the back of smartphone growth and low data prices.  “In the next innings, broadband penetration in rural areas and mass adoption of fixed broadband hold the anchor to continue and accelerate this growth trajectory,” he added.

The Deloitte report also cited statistics from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that an increase of 10 percent in fixed broadband penetration yields an increase of 0.8 percent in GDP, and an increase of 10 percent in mobile broadband penetration yields an increase of 1.5 percent in GDP.

According to Deloitte, key challenges holding back the potential growth and mass adoption of broadband in India are right of way issues, cost of infrastructure deployment, levels of digital literacy, and access to affordable devices.

Representative image (Photo: Mint)

                                                       Photo Credit:  Mint

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Harnessing the full power of broadband is a multi-stage process that would involve availability of stable and high-speed broadband connectivity; accessibility to not only internet but affordable devices such as computers and mobiles; and usability (digital skills and applications/websites for users to rely on, that too, in the relevant vernacular languages).

While India has made significant development in broadband speeds over the years, “there is a large scope for growth in speeds” to enable further growth of technology platforms, social development programmes, businesses, and economic growth.

“As identified by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) significant improvements can be achieved in broadband speeds in the country. An important step is to pursue increasing the minimum broadband speed from 512 kbps to 2 mbps,” it said.

“Significant increase in demand for fixed broadband is estimated to continue, as a result of the pandemic, with extension in work-from-home for most corporates and permanent changes in digital behavior of people in the new normal.  The broadband penetration has positive correlation with GDP growth and employment. According to a World Bank report, a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration levels in developing countries is estimated to lead to 1.38 per cent GDP growth,” the report stated.

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The cloud computing market in India has almost doubled from US$2.5 billion in 2018 to US$4.5 billion in 2020 and is set to grow to approximately US$7 billion by 2023.  Meanwhile, “IoT connected devices in the Indian market have grown from only 60 million in 2016 to an estimated 1.9 billion in 2020. This growth is expected to continue for both consumer and industrial IoT with multiple sectors adopting IoT,” the report said.

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References:

https://in.news.yahoo.com/covid-19-pandemic-accelerated-pace-082101954.html

Comcast Earnings Report: Record Broadband Growth; 3 Core Strategy Tenets; Wireless Expansion

Comcast added a record 633,000 residential and business broadband Internet customers in the Q3-2020, but lost another 273,000 video customers.  Cable Communications total customer relationship net additions of 556,000, were the best quarterly result ever for the company.

Xfinity Mobile, Comcast’s mobile service via Verizon MVNO agreement, added 187,000 wireless subscriber in Q3-2020. That was down from additions of 204,000 lines in the year-ago quarter. There were 2.58 million mobile subs at the end of the quarter.

We are nearly eight months into this pandemic – and despite many harsh realities, I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of how our team has worked together across the company to find safe and creative solutions to successfully operate in this environment. We are executing at the highest level; and perhaps, most importantly, accelerating innovation, which will drive long-term future growth. This third quarter, we delivered the best broadband results in our company’s history. Driven by our industry-leading platform and strategic focus on broadband, aggregation and streaming, we added a record 633,000 high-speed internet customers and 556,000 total net new customer relationships. At the same time, we’re growing our entertainment platforms with the addition of Flex, which has a significant positive impact on broadband churn and customer lifetime value. Our integrated strategy is also driving results in streaming with nearly 22 million sign-ups for Peacock to date, and we are exceeding our expectations on all engagement metrics in only a few months. And Sky continues to add customer relationships at higher prices while reducing churn to all-time lows in our core UK business. Going forward, and as we emerge from the pandemic, we believe we are extremely well positioned to provide seamless and integrated experiences for our customers and to deliver superior long-term growth and returns for our shareholders,” said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Corporation.

Cable Communications revenue increased 2.9% to $15.0 billion in the third quarter of 2020, driven by increases in high-speed internet, business services, wireless and advertising revenue, partially offset by decreases in video, voice and other revenue. These results were negatively impacted by accrued customer regional sports network (RSN) fee adjustments related to canceled sporting events as a result of COVID-19. Excluding these adjustments5, Cable Communications revenue increased 3.9%. High-speed internet revenue increased 10.1%, due to an increase in the number of residential high-speed internet customers and an increase in average rates.

Comcast defined three “core tenets” that will drive its strategy focused on broadband Internet, content aggregation and scaling up its tech platforms for video streaming.

(Source: Comcast)

Source: Comcast

Xfinity Flex, Comcast’s free streaming video/smart home product for broadband-only customers, has helped the company retain its broadband base. Flex, which has about 1 million active users, has cut churn rates by 15% to 20% among new broadband customers that engage with the platform. Flex has also helped to offset Comcast’s pay-TV subscriber losses for the past two quarters.

“The goal of our common tech stack is to build once and deploy as many times in as many markets and in as many ways as possible on our network or through wholesale distribution,” Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and CEO, said on the company’s earnings call. He noted that the approach generates “good margins” for the company.

Indeed, cable profit margins of 42.7% were up 290 bps YoY, continuing a steady uptrend and beating analyst consensus of 41.7% by 100 bps. Absent wireless, margins would have been 44.3%, the highest ever and fully 300 bps above the levels a year ago.

Meanwhile, Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) decreased 4.9% to $2.4 billion in the third quarter of 2020. Cable Communications’ capital expenditures decreased 2.5% to $1.8 billion. NBCUniversal’s capital expenditures decreased 29.3% to $357 million. Sky’s capital expenditures increased 127.3% to $237 million. For the nine months ended September 30, 2020, capital expenditures decreased 7.6% to $6.3 billion compared to 2019.

“We’re committed to accelerating the wireless business,” Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable, said on today’s earnings call.  Comcast may build out its own cellular infrastructure, at least on a targeted basis, which would effectively complement its MVNO arrangement with Verizon. Notably, Comcast was one of several cable operators that bid for and won CBRS spectrum, which it could use to offload mobile traffic in high-traffic areas.  “We have the ability to evolve this [mobile] offering over time to where we choose to include our own wireless network with cellular infrastructure to generate even greater profitability in the most highly trafficked mobile areas,” Roberts said.

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Analyst Assessment:

Craig Moffett, principal of MoffettNathanson asks: Where are all the broadband subscribers coming from?

Verizon, AT&T, and now Comcast have all beaten expectations, and blown away historical growth rates. But it could also be asked of wireless, where, again, Verizon, AT&T, and now Comcast have all grown (Comcast a bit more slowly than expected, but it was solid growth nonetheless). It could even be asked of video, where, yes, Verizon, AT&T, and now Comcast have all lost fewer subscribers than expected. We, and the market, will be grappling with these questions for the next three months or longer. Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious: Comcast’s subscriber metrics in Q3 were absolutely stellar, whatever the explanation.

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References:

https://www.cmcsa.com/news-releases/news-release-details/comcast-reports-3rd-quarter-2020-results

https://www.cmcsa.com/events/event-details/q3-2020-comcast-corporation-earnings-conference-call

https://www.lightreading.com/cablevideo/comcast-sees-record-broadband-growth-in-q3-as-video-falls-again/d/d-id/765032?

AT&T ends DSL sales while CWA criticizes AT&T’s broadband deployments

AT&T: DSL is Dead:

According to a message board post on DSL Reports, AT&T notified customers on billing statements in August that effective Oct. 1 it would no longer accept new orders for its copper-based DSL service.  The notice also said that existing DSL subs will no longer be able to make speed changes to their respective DSL service.

The message board author wrote:

“On my August AT&T statement, traditional DSL is officially grandfathered effective October 1st. No new orders (moves, installs, speed change, etc.). Hopefully they will still allow promos….”

That’s no surprise to this author.  AT&T’s DSL subscriber base has been eroding steadily – losing almost 350,000 subs over the past couple of years. In Q2 2020, AT&T shed 23,000 DSL subs, ending the period with just 463,000.

“We are focused on enhancing our network with more advanced, higher speed technologies like fiber and wireless, which consumers are demanding,” AT&T said in a statement. “We’re beginning to phase out outdated services like DSL and new orders for the service will no longer be supported after October 1. Current DSL customers will be able to continue their existing service or where possible upgrade to our 100% fiber network.”

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AT&T Fiber Update:

AT&T also announced three new price points for its AT&T Fiber tiers and said that all new and existing AT&T Fiber Internet 100, Internet 300 and Internet 1000 subscribers would enjoy unlimited data without additional charges. AT&T Fiber started offering the new deals as a standalone product with no annual contracts for new customers on Sunday.

As of Q2-2020, AT&T had 4.3 million AT&T Fiber customers with nearly two million of them on 1-gigabit speeds. Overall, AT&T has about 15.3 million broadband subscribers while Charter has 28 million and Comcast has over 29 million.

AT&T’s fiber tier announcement comes after AT&T CEO John Stankey told a Goldman Sachs investor conference in September that “priority number one” is investing in fiber for 5G and FTTP services.

The new prices are also an indication that AT&T intends to ramp up its drive on FTTP sales in the wake of a recent study showing that many of AT&T’s new subs were coming from existing customers upgrading to fiber rather than from gaining market share from cable Internet operators (MSOs).

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CWA Calls Out AT&T’s broadband efforts:

Coincidently today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) criticized AT&T’s lack of fiber deployments.  The report, co-authored with the National Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) stated:

AT&T is making the digital divide worse and failing its customers and workers by not investing in crucial buildout of fiber-optic infrastructure that is the standard for broadband networks worldwide. The company’s recent job cuts — more than 40,000 since 2018 — are devastating communities and hobbling the company’s ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure.

An in-depth analysis of AT&T’s network shows the company has made fiber available to fewer than a third of households in its footprint, halting most residential deployment after mid-2019. The analysis also shows that 28% of households in AT&T’s footprint do not have access to service that meets the FCC’s standard for high-speed internet, and in rural counties 72% of households lack this access. In some places, AT&T is decommissioning its outdated DSL networks and leaving customers with no option but wireless service, which is not a substitute for wireline service.

In all, AT&T has made fiber-to-the-home available for fewer than one-third of the households in its network. AT&T’s employees — many of whom are Communications Workers of America (CWA) members — know that the company could be doing much more to connect its customers to high-speed Internet if it invested in upgrading its wireline network with fiber. They know the company’s recent job cuts — more than 40,000 since 2018 — are devastating communities and hobbling the company’s ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure.

CWA recommends that AT&T dedicate a substantial share of its free cash flow to investment in next-generation networks across rural and urban communities, make its low-income product offerings available widely, and stop laying off its skilled, unionized workers and outsourcing work to low-wage, irresponsible subcontractors.

Editor’s Note:

According to CWA, AT&T has deployed fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) to only 28% of the households in its fiber coverage area as of the end of June 30, 2019.

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The CWA/NDIA report said AT&T has targeted more affluent, non-rural areas for its fiber upgrades. Houses with fiber have a median income that’s 34% higher than those with DSL only. Across the rural counties in AT&T’s 21-state footprint, only a miniscule 5% have access to fiber, according to the report.

According to the report, 14.93 million—out of almost 53 million households—have access to AT&T’s fiber service. Among states, AT&T’s FTTH build out is the lowest in Michigan with 14% have access followed by Mississippi (15%) and Arkansas (16%).

“AT&T is also failing to make fiber available to the majority of its customer base in cities,” according to the report.  “While most of AT&T’s fiber build has focused on urban areas—96 percent of households with access to fiber in AT&T’s footprint are in predominantly urban counties—the company hasn’t built enough fiber to reach the majority of urban residents. Seventy percent of households in urban counties still lack access to fiber from AT&T because the company has made fiber available to only 14.7 million households out of 48.4 million total households in these counties.”

The report also said there were many areas in AT&T’s footprint where it doesn’t offer the Federal Communications Commission’s “broadband” definition of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

“For 28% of the households in its network footprint, AT&T’s internet service does not meet the FCC’s 25/3 Mbps benchmark to be considered broadband,” the report said.  A key recommendation is that “AT&T must upgrade its network in rural communities to meet the FCC’s broadband definition, at least, and renew its efforts to deploy next-generation fiber.”

The report noted that in some areas where AT&T doesn’t provide faster speeds, cable operators, such as Comcast and Charter do.

“Even where that access is available from another provider­—typically a cable provider—consumers are deprived of the benefits of competition in price, choice and service quality,” the report said.

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AT&T is counting on fiber for both residential and commercial services, including AT&T TV. In order to win over customers from cable operators, AT&T has paired its 1-Gig service with AT&T TV.

Regarding DSL, the report states: “AT&T’s poor maintenance of its DSL networks, with limited capacity for new connections, results in would-be new customers in some areas being denied service entirely or told they can only subscribe to fixed wireless service (a 4G wireless connection for home use, designed for rural areas).”

As expected, AT&T refuted the claims made in the CWA/NDIA report in a statement to FierceTelecom and Broadband World News on Monday afternoon.

“Our investment decisions are based on the capacity needs of our network and demand for our services. We do not ‘redline’ internet access and any suggestion that we do is wrong.  We have invested more in the United States over the past 5 years (2015-2019) than any other public company. We have spent more than $125 billion in our U.S. wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations. Our 5G network provides high-speed internet access nationwide, our fiber network serves more 18 million customer locations and we continue to invest to expand both networks.”

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New Fiber Optics Market Report:

Finally, a new report by Technavio forecasts that the global fiber optics market size will grow by USD 2.44 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of almost 5% throughout the forecast period.

Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Global Fiber Optics Market 2020-2024 (Graphic: Business Wire)

Image Credit:  Technavio

The increase in the number of FTTH homes and subscribers is the key factor driving the market growth. A higher number of customers are opting for fiber optic connections to leverage broadband services. This reduces the requirements for customer premises equipment (CPE) and distribution point unit (DPU).

References:

https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r32848850-DSL-is-officially-grandfathered-Get-orders-in-BEFORE-October

https://cwa-union.org/news/releases/new-reports-detail-how-telecoms-companies-att-are-failing-provide-broadband-and-good

https://cwa-union.org/sites/default/files/20201005attdigitalredlining.pdf

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/cwa-calls-out-at-t-s-lack-fiber-its-dsl-footprint

http://www.broadbandworldnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=764417

AT&T CEO: Fiber, Stories and (Video) Content to drive future revenues and growth

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201005005444/en/

 

 

Point Topic Analysis of Fixed Broadband Tariffs from 300 Operators in 90 Countries

Point Topic has published the analysis of more than 4,000 fixed broadband tariffs from 300 operators in more than 90 countries. The new research, which looks at trends in broadband prices and speeds in Q2 2020, reveals:

  • Driven by the drop in the average cost of fibre broadband, the average monthly charge for residential broadband services fell by 2.2% compared to Q4 2019. This was despite the slight increase in the average cost of cable and copper connections.
  • The average bandwidth provided to residential subscribers has gone up by 17% compared to Q4 2019. The boost was caused by the increase in bandwidth provided over cable and fibre networks – 24% and 11% growth from Q4 2019 respectively.
  • The drop in the cost of cable and fibre connections has driven the average monthly charge for business broadband down by 3.2% compared to Q4 2019.
  • Asia-Pacific has retained its position as the fastest and cheapest region for residential broadband. In the business market, where the cost per Mbps is lowest in Western Europe, Asia Pacific leads in terms of the average bandwidth.
The complete tariff report is available by clicking on the link below (no subscription or registration is required):

Fixed broadband tariffs – key trends in Q2 2020

As always, we have ranked 84 countries by the median, entry-level and average broadband tariff.

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For the complete ranking tables, see Broadband tariff country scorecards – Q2 2020

The data behind these reports is taken from Point Topic’s Broadband Operators & Tariffs service.

Access to the full version of this report and our latest tariff database featuring more than 5,000 services from over 90 countries are available to subscribers of Point Topic’s Broadband Operators & Tariffs as well as Double Play and Triple Play services. To find out more, please telephone +44 (0)20 3301 3303 or e-mail simona@point-topic.com.

References:

http://point-topic.com/free-analysis/residential-broadband-tariffs-ranking-by-country-in-q2-2020/