The slow death march of DSL continues, especially at two of the largest phone companies in America. Last week, Verizon 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 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 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?