U.S. wireline broadband providers avoided making it two years in a row for an overall contraction in subscribers, posting a second-quarter uptick fueled by cable growth that overcame softness from the telcos.
The two wireline sectors combined to add 249,000 broadband customers in the second quarter, according to full industry estimates from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Residential broadband subscribers for the first time topped the slumping multichannel household tally, reaching 93.8 million at the end of the quarter. The percentage of households with wireline broadband connections accounted for 76.6% of occupied units, as calculated by Kagan, versus residential video penetrations from the combined cable, telco, and DBS households of 75.8%. While broadband penetrations have been notching upward, the decline in multichannel prevalence was the primary mover in the inflection point.
Growth in the cable segment came in just shy of half a million new customers in the quarter. Commercial gains had a material impact on the net adds, but residential was still the primary engine. The signs of an impending slowdown were mixed. The net adds in the seasonally slower quarter were down from the year-ago mark, but on par with the gain in second quarter 2015.The telco segment at large suffered competitive headwinds, punctuated by significant declines at the midsize operators. Frontier Communications Corp. and CenturyLink Inc. contributed 178,000 to the overall drop, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the combined losses. However, there were pockets of positive results, particularly from fiber-deep deployments from AT&T and Verizon.