AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile Combine to Add More than 1 Million Home Broadband Customers in 2021

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While Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors Monday that the cable industry has little to worry about from emerging fixed wireless access (FWA) services, he may want to look again.

While Leitchman Research Group released figures Monday suggesting that the top seven cable operators controlled around 95% of the net home broadband additions in 2021, a closer look at LRG's data suggests the wireless giants made significant progress in reanimating their previously moribund home internet business. 

Last year, the telco industry added 148,000 high-speed internet users vs. just 39.5 million net adds in 2020. Factor out the still heavy losses of DSL customers, and subscribers using other older internet technologies, and the telco sector's growth numbers look much better. 

Telcos added a net of 1.8 million fiber customers in 2021, with AT&T (120,000 net broadband customers) returning to the black and Verizon also up over 2020 (+236,000 vs. +173,000).

Meanwhile, Leichtman's tally leaves out fixed wireless gains by T-Mobile (+546,000) and Verizon (+173,000). In all, the three top wireless companies -- T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T -- added more than 1 million home internet customers in 2021, combining fiber with FWA.

Cable operators still controlled 70% of the U.S. home internet market last year and added 2.8 million net customers in 2021. However, that is significantly less than the 4,819,371 customers they added in the pandemic year of 2020.

“The top broadband providers added significantly fewer subscribers in 2021 than in 2020, but the net adds in 2021 were higher than in each year from 2016-2019," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG in a statement. ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!