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Broadband Growth for 1Q 2021

Leichtman Research Group recently released the broadband customer statistics for the end of the first quarter of 2021 for the largest cable and telephone companies. Leichtman compiles most of these numbers from the statistics provided to stockholders other than for Cox, which is estimated. Leichtman says this group of companies represents 96% of all US landline broadband customers.

The 1,000,000 net broadband customers added in the quarter beats the 900,000 broadband additions in the fourth quarter of last year. The following are the statistics showing the growth in the first quarter.

 1Q 2021 1Q Change % Change
Comcast 31,034,000 460,000 1.5%
Charter 29,234,000 355,000 1.2%
AT&T 15,435,000 51,000 0.3%
Verizon 7,193,000 64,000 0.9%
Cox 5,435,000 55,000 1.0%
CenturyLink 4,728,000 (39,000) -0.8%
Altice 4,370,800 11,600 0.3%
Frontier 3,052,000 (17,000) -0.6%
Mediacom 1,454,000 16,000 1.1%
Windstream 1,122,300 13,000 1.2%
Cable ONE 880,000 23,000 2.7%
WOW! 823,800 10,000 1.2%
Consolidated 794,224 2,024 0.3%
TDS 501,700 8,400 1.7%
Atlantic Broadband 511,004 6,383 1.3%
Cincinnati Bell 437,600 1,500 0.3%
107,006,428 1,020,907 1.0%
Total Cable 73,742,604 936,983 1.3%
Total Telco 33,263,824 83,924 0.3%

Leading the way is Comcast and Charter, which collectively added 815,000 new broadband customers. That represents 80% of all of the new net customers added by the industry. The cable companies collectively added 936,983 customers in the fourth quarter compared to 83,924 for the telcos. If the 1% growth rate is sustained, the large ISPs will add over 4 million customers this year, a little below the 4.8 million new broadband customers added in 2020.

Buried inside of these numbers is the fact that the telcos collectively added 400,000 customers to fiber in the quarter bringing total telco fiber customers to 14.6 million. Over time this growth ought to let the telcos claw back some of the growth experienced by the cable companies over the last few years.

It will be interesting to see what happens to broadband customers as the pandemic finally slows down and students return to live school and many people move back to the office. The pandemic has also attracted a lot of new customers to buy low-income broadband offerings, and we’ll have to wait to see if those are long-term sustainable.

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