Blog Post

U.S. Broadband Growth Continues to Slow

The number of new broadband subscribers continues to slow in the U.S., according to data gathered by UBS Research, driven primarily by market saturation. The Wall Street firm estimates that there are 67 million broadband subscribers in the U.S., or roughly 60 percent of the nation’s households and about 70 percent of those with a PC.


As we’ve previously noted, the number of net new broadband subscribers during the first half of 2009 was down 27 percent from the first half of 2008, to about 2.1 million. UBS Research expects this downward trajectory to continue.

We expect continued declines in the remainder of 2009 and 2010, with total broadband subscriber growth of just 5.4% in 2009 and 3.6% in 2010, vs. 8.4% in 2008. We expect broadband subscriber growth to slow to 3.5% in 2010, down from an estimated 5.4% in 2009. This will drive consumer broadband revenue growth of just 2.6%, down from 6.9% expected in 2009.

Average revenue per unit in the second quarter of 2009 was $36 a month: telcos took in an average of $31 while for cable companies the average was $41, mostly because they had higher speeds.

In the past, both Stacey and I have argued that broadband subscription providers need to counter the slowing growth by offering higher-speed (both up and downstream) subscription packages that command higher monthly fees. Instead, some backward-looking cable operators such as Time Warner Cable (s TWC) are looking to impose bandwidth metering to protect their revenues.

There is hope, however, that the broadband stimulus plan will boost broadband access, especially in regions that are severely underserved.

8 Responses to “U.S. Broadband Growth Continues to Slow”

  1. Broadband penetration in the UK has gone so high that the Office for National Statistics has discontinued its quarterly reporting of broadband growth. Nearly 60% of broadband users in the UK enjoy speeds of 2Mbps or higher.

    However, superfast next-generation access coverage which is negligible today is expected to increase quickly over the next year and forecasted to pass 50 per cent by 2014, thereby stimulating growth.

  2. johnbbartell

    Bandwidth metering is not a good idea for generating extra revenue. Subscribers are turned off by the uncertainty of their bills rather thanjust by what they end up paying. Predictability is worth a lot to subscribers, especially when they generally do not have a good idea how much bandwidth they actually consume.

  3. Oh no – it’s exploding exponentially. Thats why TWC needs all those extra bandwidth caps that they insist are not just to make more money. I bet their cable subscription revenue is falling too – after all HBO, Digital Cable, etc. are all optional services that people really don’t NEED.

    Broadband providers have two choices – look forward or be replaced/die. Those that look forward will provide better service, more bandwidth and faster speeds at lower and lower prices. Those that go with caps, non-neutral nets and other tactics will be replaced or removed.