Cable Continues to Beat Telcos at the Broadband Game

[qi:011] Cable beat the telco carriers two to one for broadband adds in the third quarter of 2008, according to data out today from Leichtman Research Group. Of the 1.3 million total broadband adds in the quarter, 873,745 went to cable, as opposed to 425,868 who signed up for DSL service. We’ve pointed out that cable is gaining over DSL during the last few quarters, and even wondered what the telcos would do as DSL lines fell. Before we credit cable’s fast speeds compared with DSL for its advantage, however, Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group said, “It is more a function of the telcos’ shift in focus towards higher value subscribers while cable has been consistent in marketing broadband as part of its nearly ubiquitously available Triple Play bundles.”

Basically, decent cable broadband is everywhere, but telco broadband worth having isn’t. Leichtman Research also found that that the 20 largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. — representing about 94 percent of the market — now account for nearly 66.7 million subscribers, 36.5 million for cable and 30.2 million for telcos. With a recession here, I wonder if pricey speed boosts from carriers will have much effect on the telcos’ broadband decline.