Continued email problems

Rackspace is apparently a disaster, so if you want to reach me, please use dawsonccg@gmail.com.

It’s amazing how reliant we are on the little things like email that works.

 

 

Email Outage

We are, unfortunately one of the many victims of the RackSpace server crash. Our email has been out all day. If you have something critical to get to me, call or text me at 202 255-7689.

Doug

Businesses Are Ready for the Metaverse

The latest technology on the horizon is the metaverse, which, stated simply, is the creation of online environments. While the primary focus of the metaverse is to create alternate realities, an application with a possible immediate big uptake is vertical presence for business meetings.

Ciena, a manufacturer of fiber optic transmission equipment, recently did a survey worldwide of 15,000 business people to understand the interests and expectations of the metaverse. Here are some of the most interesting findings from the survey:

  • 96% of businesspeople surveyed recognize the value of holding virtual meetings.
  • 78% of survey respondents said they would prefer an immersive experience over current tools like video conferencing. Many talked about having Zoom fatigue.
  • 71% thought that virtual meetings and the metaverse could become part of the everyday practices for businesses.
  • 40% thought that their business was likely to move from traditional collaboration tools in favor of virtual-based platforms in the next two years.

Of course, the respondents recognized the hurdles to bringing the metaverse into the workplace. 38% thought that network performance would be a challenge and would hold businesses back from using the metaverse. Many respondents also worried that there would be limited availability of high-quality software to operate efficiently in the metaverse.

Overall, the survey showed that there is interest in the metaverse in the workplace. That’s not the same as demand, and companies will likely only embrace the technology if it is affordable and is reliable. I have to admit I am intrigued that so many survey respondents thought that using the metaverse in the workplace is right around the corner.

I’m not sure that a lot of the respondents grasped the network challenges required for using the metaverse in the workplace. A big question that still needs to be answered is how much bandwidth is going to be required to use the metaverse.

There are two visions for the metaverse. One would replace face-to-face Zoom images with avatars. It’s possible that this metaverse would use even less bandwidth than video calls. But this begs the question of whether people want to have meetings with avatars rather than with the actual person. I might be the exception, but I like Zoom calls that let me see the person I’m talking to. I know a lot of people are shy or hate Zoom calls for other reasons, such as having to put on a public face for a function that just a few years ago would have been a phone call. Going from cameras to avatars might be comforting to Zoom haters.

But the other vision of the metaverse in the workplace uses a lot more broadband. This is the concept of telepresence, where a person can feel like they are meeting live with the person at the other end. This might mean beaming the meeting into an actual office or holding meetings in virtual offices and conference rooms. Telepresence is going to require a lot of bandwidth in order to project a real-time hologram of a meeting participant. I also have to assume that a telepresence connection is going to require low latency and jitter.

The big challenge for most of the world is upload bandwidth. Companies aren’t going to make telepresence calls over today’s cable technology. The cable companies could solve this by implementing faster upload speeds, and many are tackling that. But most are not looking at upload speeds that equal the symmetrical speeds on most fiber connections.

The other big challenge for the metaverse is that a lot of employees now work virtually, meaning that companies will have to deal with a wide variety of inferior home broadband connections.

Latest Broadband Statistics 3Q 2022

The latest Broadband Insights Report from Ookla shows broadband statistics for the end of the third quarter of 2022.

The average household used 495.5 gigabits of broadband per month in the quarter. That is the combination of 474.2 gigabytes of download and 32.3 gigabytes of upload.

What Ookla calls power users continues to climb. 13.7% of homes used more than 1 terabyte per month. 2.1% of all households use more than 2.1 terabytes.

The speeds of household broadband subscriptions continue to migrate to faster speeds. A lot of this is ISPs arbitrarily giving consumers faster speeds. But there are also a lot of folks opting to buy faster speeds. Only 13.1% of homes are now subscribed to speeds under 100 Mbps. 15.4 Percent of homes are subscribing to gigabit or faster broadband speeds.

Subscribers 3Q 2020 3Q 2021 3Q 2022
Under 50 Mbps 18.8% 9.8% 4.7%
50 – 99 Mbps 19.9% 8.0% 8.4%
100 – 199 Mbps 36.4% 38.4% 9.9%
200 – 499 Mbps 14.1% 27.4% 54.8%
500 – 999 Mbps 5.2% 5.1% 6.7%
1 Gbps+ 5.6% 11.4% 15.4%

I always wonder when I see one of these monthly reports where the current quarter fits into broadband trends. The following chart shows the average household usage by quarter reported by Ookla since the beginning of 2019.

This chart shows a clear pattern. It shows that broadband usage is strongest in the fourth quarter of each year. The usage dips a bit for the next several quarters each year. This trend was confounded by the pandemic when the first quarter usage spiked over the end of 2019. But from that point forward, the expected trend continued.

But the overall trend is clear, and usage is growing over time. Home broadband usage spiked during the pandemic when 2020 usage was more than 40% higher than in 2019. Usage then grew by 11% from 2020 to 2021 and grew by 14% from 2021 until 2022. Household broadband usage has grown 80% from the third quarter of 2019 until 3Q of this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT&T in the News

AT&T has not been in the headlines a lot this year, but recently I’ve seen the company’s name everywhere.

In the recently released financial results for the third quarter, AT&T noted that it now has more fiber broadband customers than non-fiber customers. At the end of the quarter, AT&T had 6.93 million fiber customers compared to 6.86 million remaining non-fiber customers. Non-fiber customers are predominantly U-Verse customers served by two pairs of telephone copper. The company still also has 340,000 DSL customers served by a single copper pair. There are also some rural fixed-wireless customers.

In the third quarter, AT&T added 338,000 fiber customers. The company lost 367,000 non-fiber customers in the second quarter – although counting them as lost is probably a misnomer since many were likely upgraded to fiber.

Upgrading to fiber is good for the company’s bottom line. For the quarter, the average revenue per user (ARPU) was $62.62 for fiber customers compared to only $54.60 for non-fiber customers. AT&T has also been saying for years that the cost of maintenance for copper is a lot higher, so the company is likely shedding costs as it sheds customers served on copper.

We also got a peek at market AT&T’s penetration. AT&T says it passes 18.5 million potential customers with fiber, meaning the company has achieved an overall 37% market penetration on fiber. In the third quarter, the company added fiber to pass 500,000 new locations.

I saw another interesting news blurb about AT&T. Bloomberg reported that AT&T is looking for an equity partner to invest in a major expansion of fiber. That would be a big departure from the past since AT&T has always funded its own capital expenditures and networks.

But it’s not hard to see from the third quarter results why AT&T might be seeking additional funding. In the third quarter, the company generated $9.87 billion of cash. It invested $4.71 billion in new infrastructure and paid $3.75 billion in dividends – leaving only $1.41 billion in free cash.

I would conjecture that AT&T wants to invest more heavily in fiber immediately since it’s clear that there is a mad rush nationwide to build fiber in cities. Fiber overbuilders hope that if they are the first to a market with fiber that it might dissuade other fiber overbuilders – so we are currently seeing a fiber land grab. In the long run, sharing fiber profits with an investor will decrease future AT&T earnings. The calculus that the company is betting on is that the market share gained by building first to markets outweighs the cost of sharing profits.

AT&T is currently debt-heavy. AT&T hasn’t had a recent track record of making good investment decisions. It’s been reported that AT&T lost as much as $50 billion from its purchase of DirecTV. In almost the same time frame, the company lost as much as $42 billion from its purchase and sale of WarnerMedia. The company might not be able to easily borrow the money, particularly at current interest rates.

The final news is that AT&T was fined $23 million to resolve a federal investigation that the company had “unlawfully influenced” the former Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael J. Madigan. AT&T admits that it paid Madigan, through an ally, to promote legislation that would eliminate carrier of last resort in the state – meaning that the company is obligated to serve people who ask for a telephone line. That obligation also comes with legacy regulatory requirements that AT&T wanted to ditch.

What always dismays me, but never surprises me, is that nobody at a big company like AT&T got in trouble for breaking the law – in this case, bribing a government official. The size of the fine might be appropriate for the magnitude of the crime, but I’ve always thought that the folk at big companies would be more likely to hesitate to be unethical if they saw others going to jail for breaking the law. The only real consequence for AT&T, in this case, is that they got caught, and the fine will just be viewed as the cost of doing business.

The Price for Faster Upload Speeds

I’ve always been impressed by the marketing folks at the big cable companies. They are masters of extracting money from customers willing to pay for better broadband. The latest example comes from Comcast. The company is introducing a new product in the Northeast that offers faster upload speeds – for a price.

Comcast knows that its biggest weakness is upload speeds. The current upload speeds for products with download speeds up to 300 are only at 10 Mbps. The upload speeds for the current 600 Mbps and 800 Mbps products are at 20 Mbps.

Comcast is increasing download speeds across the board for no extra charge – this will catch the Northeast up to much of the rest of the country where speeds have already been increased.  But rather than highlight the deficiency of the technology, Comcast has created a new ‘premium’ product labeled as xFi to bring faster upload speeds. Comcast will charge $25 per month to upgrade the upload speeds to as fast as 100 Mbps.

The following chart shows the download speeds today and the speeds after the automatic speed upgrade. The chart also shows the associated upload speeds – both the current speeds and what will be provided by customers willing to spend an extra $25 per month. Existing gigabit customers won’t see a download speed increase but will be able to buy faster upload speeds for the $25 price.

Download Upload
Current Upgraded Current xFi
50 Mbps 75 Mbps 10 Mbps 75 Mbps
100 Mbps 200 Mbps 10 Mbps 100 Mbps
300 Mbps 400 Mbps 10 Mbps 100 Mbps
600 Mbps 800 Mbps 20 Mbps 100 Mbps
800 Mbps 1 Gbps 20 Mbps 100 Mbps
1.2 Gbps 35 Mbps 100 Mbps
2 Gbps 100 Mbps 200 Mbps

The upgrades in download speeds are supposed to happen over the next few months. The upload upgrades will come at some unspecified time next year.

To make it even more expensive, the xFi upgrade will only be available to customers who are also leasing a Comcast Wi-Fi 6E modem that costs $14 per month. The faster upload speeds won’t work on customer-owned modems. That brings the total cost to get faster upload speeds to $39 extra per month.

For years I’ve been saying that the big cable companies are going to be charging $100 for basic broadband. It looks like Comcast has gotten there sooner than I predicted with this upgrade – at least for customers willing to buy broadband that works.

The Comcast price today for the standalone basic 100 Mbps broadband product is $80. Customers who want to get faster upload speeds with xFi will now be paying $105, plus another $14 for the mandatory modem to get the faster upload – a total of $119. You have to give Comcast credit for being audacious and going for the big price increase all at once. Of course, many Comcast customers get a bundling discount, and new customers get promotional discounts – but with xFi, even those prices are likely to be at $100 or more.

This is just speculation, but I’m guessing that Comcast can’t give everybody faster upload speeds due to network limitations. Rather than admit a network deficiency, the Comcast marketing folks have prettied this up as a premium product. Doling this out only for those willing to spend more will extract the highest new revenues possible without bogging down the network.

One thing that is not being mentioned is that giving some customers faster upload speeds probably means a little slower uploads for everybody else – which will drive even more folks to pony up the extra money.

There is an easy way to get faster upload speeds without paying extra. Many homes in the Northeast can already get symmetrical broadband speeds on Verizon FiOS, and anybody thinking of paying extra to Comcast ought to consider that switch. But for customers in non-FiOS areas, this upgrade is probably the only way to get an upload link that works for a family with multiple broadband users. This new pricing is crying out for new fiber competition. An ISP can build fiber, charge $80 or $90 for symmetrical gigabit, and still bring savings to customers. I always expected that to happen, but not this soon.

It’s likely that Comcast will roll out this product in the rest of the country, and the other Comcast areas have the added burden of paying for data caps. Comcast never put data caps into the Northeast because of Verizon FiOS, but in the rest of the country, any consumers that use more than a terabyte of data in a month pay even more.

The Municipal Broadband Battle

My overall impression of the BEAD NOFO is that the NTIA largely emphasized, and in many cases even strengthened the requirements for the grants as delineated in the federal legislation. But there is one area where I think the NTIA is instead treading carefully.

The federal legislation made it clear that BEAD grants should be made available to everybody – commercial entities, non-profit entities, Tribes, and municipal entities. The day that I read the federal legislation, I knew there would be an eventual showdown since many states have barriers or restrictions against municipal participation in building, owning, or operating commercial broadband networks.

The NTIA is tackling this sticky issue using the following language:

A state must Disclose (1) whether the Eligible Entity (the state) will waive all laws  . . . concerning broadband, utility services, or similar subjects, whether they predate or postdate enactment of the Infrastructure Act, that either (a) preclude certain public sector providers from participation in the subgrant competition or (b) impose specific requirements on public sector entities, such as limitations on the sources of financing, the required imputation of costs not actually incurred by the public sector entity, or restrictions on the service a public sector entity can offer; and (2) if it will not waive all such laws for BEAD Program project selection purposes, identify those that it will not waive and describe how they will be applied in connection with the competition for subgrants.

If there is any one area where politics creep into building broadband, it is with state restrictions on municipalities. There are states, like my state of North Carolina, where the legislature has repeatedly emphasized that it doesn’t want municipalities to be funding or operating fiber networks. This is also a bigger political issue because it creates another skirmish point in the ongoing battle over state rights versus federal mandates. There are many states that have drawn hard lines against federal mandates, even when it costs them a lot of money – such as the states that are still turning down billions of dollars per year of federal funding through the Affordable Care Act.

The NTIA could have handled this differently by plainly requiring that any state broadband plan has to make the grant funding available to everybody, including municipalities – as stated in the legislation. States could have reacted to that requirement in one of several ways. A state could file a plan that agrees to waive some or all municipal restrictions only for purposes of the BEAD grant. Broadband is such a hot topic in some states that a legislature might blink rather than take a hard line.

Or a state could react by filing a state plan that clearly sticks to existing barriers against municipal participation in broadband. That would set up a big fight between the state and the NTIA.

A state could react by refusing to file a state broadband plan and forgoing the billion dollars of funding that comes with this legislation. The interesting thing is that the legislation seems to have presupposed that some states might do this since there are provisions where municipalities and ISPs can ask for grants directly from the NTIA if a state refuses to agree with the requirements of the legislation.

I’m just guessing, and I have no insight into the mystery that is D.C. politics, but I think the NTIA chose a path that wouldn’t goad states into dropping out of the BEAD grant program. Perhaps they want to first open up a dialog, and the above language does that. It allows a state to define what it will or won’t do related to municipalities.

I also guess that this language will open up a dialog within each state about restrictions on municipal broadband. Recall that every state has to put its plan out for public comment before submitting it to the NTIA. The above language will force a state to defend its plans to the public if it refuses to allow grants for local governments. Any state taking that approach might expect a lot of public pushback – which is different than setting such policies behind closed doors in the legislature.

The language doesn’t preclude the NTIA from rejecting a state broadband plan if a state won’t budget on the issue, and it may eventually have to do so. But I also guess that the NTIA doesn’t want to directly administer the grant programs in some states, so it is motivated to see the money go to the states. I’m asked daily when I think BEAD grant applications will be available, and this is one more issue that makes it impossible to predict. If your state is going to fight the municipal broadband battle it’s going to be later than states who don’t.

An Easier Way to Define Broadband

Our broadband policies always seem to lag the market. If and when the FCC seats the fifth Commissioner, it’s expected that the agency will raise the definition of broadband from 25/3 Mbps to 100/20 Mbps. That change will have big repercussions in the market because it will mean that anybody that can’t buy broadband speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps would not have broadband. That’s how an official broadband definition works – you either have broadband, or you don’t.

The definition of broadband matters for several reasons. First, it makes areas that don’t have broadband eligible for federal grants – although many of the current round of big grants did not wait for the FCC to change the definition of broadband. It also matters in how we count the number of people without broadband. That has supposedly been one of the major purposes of the FCC broadband maps, and they failed badly in identifying homes that can’t buy 25/3 broadband. But on the day that the FCC changes the definition of broadband, millions of homes will be officially declared to not be able to buy real broadband.

I’ve always hated these arbitrary hard lines defined by speeds. Anybody who has ever done speed tests at their home knows that the broadband speed delivered varies from second to second, minute to minute, and hour by hour. It’s not unusual at my desk to see speeds vary by more than 50% during the course of the day.

The original purpose for having a definition of broadband was established by Congress, which directed the FCC to have plans to bring rural broadband into parity with urban broadband. The folks that wrote that law in 1996 could never have envisioned that we’d grow from having dial-up Internet to gigabit capabilities in urban America in 2022.

If the goal is still to create parity between urban and rural broadband, there is a much easier way to define broadband. The cable companies have regularly increased the speeds of their minimum broadband products, and in my mind, when they do so, they set a new standard target for parity between rural and urban areas.

Recently both Charter and Cable One increased the minimum speeds of basic broadband to 200 Mbps (with no mention of upload speeds). Charter is increasing speeds automatically with no rate changes. Cable One’s change seems like more of a quiet rate increase since it will charge customers $5 more per month to automatically move them from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps.

Charter has always led the industry in this. I think they were a leader in moving to 30 Mbps, 60 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and now 200 Mbps. The rest of the cable industry generally matches Charter in this increases within a year or so.

The one exception is Comcast Xfinity. The company still has a 50Mbps and a 100 Mbps product. However, if you go to the web, all they are pushing is a new 300 Mbps product. I expect it’s not easy for a new customer to buy the 50 Mbps product.

When the big cable companies voluntarily raise the speed bar by increasing speeds across the board, they have, by definition, redefined urban broadband. Can parity mean anything other than residents in a rural area should be able to buy broadband as fast as is available to a basic broadband customer in an urban area?

Maybe I’m being too simplistic, but if the FCC finally raises the definition of broadband this year to 100/20 Mbps, it will already be lagging behind the urban broadband market with that definition.

Of course, the download speed question is only half of the speed equation. You have to dig deep on cable company websites to find any mention of upload speeds. The cable companies lobbied extremely hard during the passage of broadband grant legislation to make certain that the upload speed definition for grant purposes didn’t go higher than 20 Mbps. When cable companies talk to customers, they are moot on upload speeds since few urban cable products actually deliver 20 Mbps.

I probably have written too many blogs about the definition of broadband. But it’s a topic that keeps having real-life implications. It’s ludicrous that there are still federal grants that award more money for serving areas with broadband speeds under 25/3 Mbps. If the real goal of the federal government is to have parity between rural and urban broadband speeds, then Charter and Cable One just provided us with a new definition of broadband. If somebody uses federal grant money to build a rural market with 100 Mbps download technology, it’s already out of parity in 2022, and it’s hard to imagine how far it will be out of parity by the time the grant-funded network is built and operational.

FCC Investigating Cost of Pole Replacements

The FCC recently issued a Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the allocation of costs when replacing poles to accommodate adding fiber or other communications wires communications devices to poles. The traditional rule has been that the new attacher must pay for 100% of the cost of make-ready, including the cost of pole replacement if there is not sufficient room to add a new wire or device (like a small cell).

In January 2021, the FCC issued an order that clarified that it is unreasonable for a new attacher to automatically have to pay the full cost of swapping a pole. This current NPRM now asks the industry for comments to clarify some of the stickier situations that arise out of trying to allocate the costs of pole replacement. For example, the NPRM asks for comments on the following situations and questions:

  • How do you determine the extent to which a pole owner will benefit from a pole replacement? There are plenty of cases where poles are clearly at the end of life and should have been replaced by the pole owner as a part of routine maintenance.
  • What standards or formulas should be applied to calculate the amount that a pole owner should be responsible for?
  • How should any new rules handle having to replace a pole that is not near the end of economic life – what the FCC is calling early pole replacement.
  • Will requiring pole owners to pay a share of pole replacement negatively impact the negotiation between telecom companies and pole owners?
  • Is there any mechanism that can be used to minimize disputes or to expedite the resolution of disputes?
  • Finally, the FCC is looking at the question of pole attachment rates and asks if there should be refunds to pole attachers if a finding is made that pole attachment rates are too high?

The FCC is asking the right questions. Carriers wanting to add wires or devices to poles have had two common complaints – the process takes too long and is too expensive.

The dilemma faced by the FCC is that anything other an iron-clad, non-debatable formula for allocating costs for pole attachments will make the timelines worse. If there is even a sliver of a chance for the costs to be negotiated, there will be a lot of disputed negotiations that will be to be resolved by regulators – and that will inevitably add even more time to the pole attachment process.

Let’s put this into perspective with a few examples. I know of several rural electric cooperatives where the poles are in dreadful condition. The poles are old, short, and starting to rot and fall down. I know fiber builders who have walked away from bringing fiber in these areas because they were told that practically every pole must be replaced – at a cost of $20,000 or more per pole. A fair finding might be that these cooperatives should pay for 100% of the cost of pole replacement since it is needed for the electric grid – it’s something they should have been doing anyway. Should a new attacher pay a penalty because pole owners had no pole maintenance and replacement plan? But these cooperatives are in poor counties, and the cooperatives don’t feel they can afford to replace the poles. An order that makes the cooperative quickly replace all of the poles could be an unaffordable burden. There may be no winners in this kind of dispute.

Remember that all pole owners are not neutral parties. Some poles are owned by telcos or by a utility that plans to offer broadband. In both cases, the pole owner has a financial incentive to delay or drive away potential pole attachers who are competitors. These owners might avail themselves of every possible delay that comes from any regulatory established timeline to settle disputes on the pole replacement issue.

For every one of the questions that the FCC is asking, there are real-life examples of sticky situations that are hard to resolve. A solution cannot include a dispute resolution process, or bad actor pole owners are going to fight every pole replacement request.

The very questions that the FCC is asking would lead to the grounds for a dispute. For example, what party can determine the condition of a given pole and if a pole owner will benefit from a free replacement? Who is to define what an early pole replacement looks like – in a way that can’t be disputed? Regulators must be cringing when they read this NPRM because they know they will be flooded with individual disputes over single poles filed by a fiber builder that wants a fast resolution.

Even the simplest solution I can think of would lead to disputes. Consider a solution that uses a formula that determines the share of costs allocated to the pole owner by the age of the pole – the older the pole, the more a pole owner pays. I can promise even that will lead to arguments about the age of a given pole.

National Broadband Growth is Slowing

Leichtman Research recently released the broadband customer statistics for the end of the fourth quarter of 2021. The numbers show that broadband growth has slowed significantly for the sixteen largest ISPs tracked by the company. LRG compiles these statistics from customer counts provided to stockholders, except for Cox which is privately owned.

Net customer additions sank each quarter during the year.  The first quarter of 2021 saw over 1 million net new broadband customers. That dropped to just under 900,000 in the second quarter, 630,000 in the third quarter, and now 423,000 in the fourth quarter. The statistics for all of 2021 and for the fourth quarter are as follows:

Annual % 4Q %
4Q 2021 Change Change Change Change
Comcast 30,574,000 1,327,000 4.3% 213,000 0.7%
Charter 28,879,000 1,210,000 4.2% 190,000 0.6%
AT&T 15,384,000 120,000 0.8% (6,000) 0.0%
Verizon 7,129,000 236,000 3.3% 28,000 0.4%
Cox 5,380,000 150,000 2.8% 20,000 0.4%
CenturyLink 4,767,000 (248,000) -5.2% (70,000) -1.5%
Altice 4,389,600 (3,400) -0.1% (1,900) 0.0%
Frontier 2,834,000 (35,000) -1.2% 10,000 0.4%
Mediacom 1,438,000 25,000 1.7% (3,000) -0.2%
Windstream 1,109,300 55,200 5.0% 17,500 1.5%
Cable ONE 992,000 63,000 6.4% 25,000 2.4%
Atlantic Broadband 698,000 18,778 2.7% (222) 0.0%
WOW! 498,800 12,900 2.6% 2,200 0.4%
TDS 493,300 32,700 6.6% 3,200 0.6%
Cincinnati Bell 436,100 3,900 0.9% 1,000 0.2%
Consolidated 401,357 (16,793) -4.2% (6,097) -1.6%
Total 105,403,457 2,951,285 2.8% 422,681 0.4%
Cable 72,849,400 2,803,278 3.8% 445,078 0.6%
Telco 32,554,057 148,007 0.5% (22,397) -0.1%
           
Fixed Wireless 874,000 719,000 82.3%    

There are a few interesting things to keep an eye on in the future. The growth for Comcast and Charter have slowed significantly and my prediction is that there will come a quarter within a year where one or both of them will lose net customers. For several years running, Frontier has been bleeding customers but seems to be turning it around. The big loser is now CenturyLink.

For some reason, LRG is leaving out fixed cellular customers. At the end of 2021, T-Mobile reported 646,000 fixed cellular customers, with 546,000 added in 2021. Verizon is up to 228,000 fixed cellular customers, up by 173,000 during 2021. The two companies, along with AT&T, are making a major push in this market and expect to add millions of customers in 2022 – many at the expense of the other ISPs on the list. It’s an odd choice to exclude these customers since the speeds on fixed cellular are faster than the DSL delivered by the telcos on the list. Also missing are other big providers that are probably larger than Consolidated, like a few of the largest WISPs and fiber overbuilders like Google Fiber.

But even after counting the growth of fixed cellular broadband, it’s obvious that the broadband market growth has cooled. The burst of new customers in 2020 and the first half of 2021 were clearly fueled by homes buying broadband during the pandemic.

It’s also worth noting that the numbers for WOW! and Atlantic Broadband (now Breezeline) have been adjusted for the sale of customers by WOW!.