The slow death march of DSL continues, especially at two of the largest phone companies in America. Last week, Verizon (s VZ) reported a loss of about 89,000 DSL connections and a boom in demand for its faster fiber optic service, FiOS, which added about 193,000 new subscribers. We are seeing similar trends at AT&T (s T) as well. Things are so bad at Ma Bell, that it buried the news at the bottom of the earnings release.
AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet delivered a first-quarter net gain of 718,000 subscribers to reach a total of 5.9 million, more than offsetting losses from DSL. Overall, AT&T added 103,000 wireline broadband connections. About 45 percent of consumers have a broadband plan delivering speeds up to 6 Mbps or higher versus 35 percent in the year-ago quarter.
The net addition of 103,000 broadband subscribers is an improvement from the fourth quarter of 2011 (ended December 31) when the company saw a net decline of 49,000 in total broadband subscribers. AT&T lost close to 615,000 classic DSL connections during the first quarter of 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2011, AT&T lost about 636,000 connections.
With more people using broadband to access all sorts of bandwidth-consuming services such as Spotify, Netflix (s nflx) and MLB games, it is pretty clear that the classic DSL isn’t enough. The change in demand patterns is reflective of that. For U-Verse, AT&T uses a combination of fiber-to-the-node technology to deliver video, voice and data service.
That said, I think that AT&T is not really interested in pushing standalone wireline broadband services. Instead it wants to focus on either the triple-play packages (voice, video and data) or the the more lucrative mobile business — much like Verizon. Why deal with net neutrality and fight for caps, when you can charge an arm and a leg for LTE?