Broadband Growth Slows

The nation's 20 largest cable and telephone providers picked up more than 5.4 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in 2008, representing 8.7% annual growth but well off the pace of the two previous years, according to Leichtman Research Group.

Annual net broadband additions in 2008 were the fewest in the seven years that Leichtman has tracked the broadband industry. In 2007, broadband providers added 8.5 million subscribers, and the year before that peaked with 10.4 million net adds.

The group of 20 providers, which Leichtman estimates represents about 94% of the market, ended 2008 with 67.7 million subscribers. Cable companies held 36.9 million of those, and telcos had 30.7 million.

The top cable companies netted 59% of the broadband additions in 2008. Telcos took the lead in the fourth quarter of 2008, though, adding about 570,000 subscribers in the period vs. 460,000 for cable.

In 2008, Comcast added 1.34 million broadband subscribers, to end the year with 14.929 million. That pulled the No. 1 MSO nearly even with AT&T, which added 921,000 broadband subs for the year to stand at 15.077 million high-speed Internet subs.

The 20 providers in Leichtman's study were: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems, Qwest, Mediacom, Insight, Cable One, RCN, BrightHouse Networks, Suddenlink, Embarq, Windstream, CenturyTel, Frontier, FairPoint and Cincinnati Bell.