Why high speed access market share matters: The top cable companies accounted for 83 percent of the net broadband additions in the first quarter of 2014, according to Leichtman Research Group.
Given enough time, that will lead to cable TV domination of high speed access in the U.S. market.
Looking only at the 17 largest cable and telephone providers in the US, which serve about 93 percent of all high speed access customers in the U.S. market, about 1.2 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers were added in the first quarter of 2014.
The top cable companies added about 970,000 subscribers, while the top telephone companies added about 200,000 net new subscribers.
The 17 firms collectively serve about 86.5 million accounts. Cable TV firms have about 59 percent of the installed base, serving 50.3 million accounts, while telcos serve 35.2 million customers, representing about 41 percent of the installed base.
The numbers are somewhat complicated by the transition telcos are making from all-copper digital subscriber line connections to fiber-reinforced or fiber-to-home access networks.
AT&T and Verizon added 732,000 subscribers on the U-verse and FiOS networks in the first quarter of 2014, while losing a net 638,000 DSL subscribers.
U-verse and FiOS broadband subscribers now account for 49 percent of telco broadband subscribers. Some might argue that means half the existing telco high speed access share is susceptible to churn, unless AT&T and Verizon can get their networks upgraded.
In that regard, AT&T is going to do much more than Verizon. In 2013, about 25 million AT&T access lines were upgraded with fiber to neighborhood facilities, out of about 76 million total locations, by some estimates.
In other words, about 33 percent of AT&T lines had fiber reinforcement. Project VIP originally was slated to cover 57 million households, about 75 percent of locations. AT&T further says it will add 15 million more locations if the DirecTV acquisition is approved, reaching nearly 95 percent of households.
Verizon might have passed about 52 percent of all its households with fiber-to-home networks by the end of 2013. Verizon has halted FioS deployment except where it already had gotten franchise agreements requiring it.
Granted, policy eventually could change. And AT&T is making significant new efforts to upgrade its networks. The need to compete with the likes of Google Fiber could spur both telcos to rethink high speed access investment.
Subscribers at End
of 1Q 2014
Net Adds in
Other Major Private Cable Companies**
Total Top Cable
Total Top Telephone Companies