Comcast led U.S. in new broadband subscribers in 2010, adding 1 million net customers, nearly twice the rate of AT&T; number of new subscribers in 2010 equal to 2009, indicating plateauing of U.S. residential market: Strategy Analytics

BOSTON , April 5, 2011 (press release) – Comcast led the US market in new broadband subscribers in 2010, adding one million net customers over the course of the year, according to a report just released by analyst firm Strategy Analytics. Comcast grew its subscriber rolls at nearly twice the rate of number two Broadband Service Provider, AT&T.

Overall, US Broadband Service Providers (BSPs) added 4 million new subscribers in 2010, and 1.2 million in the fourth quarter alone. The number of new subscribers added in 2010 is identical to the 2009 figure, indicating a gradual plateauing of the US residential broadband market.

Faced with escalating traffic demands on the network, some fixed Service Providers have recently announced new data caps on their heaviest DSL and Fiber customers. According to plans released by AT&T, DSL customers who exceed 150GB of data usage in three separate months will incur a fee of $10 every additional 50GB of data they consume—for U-Verse fiber customers, the limit is 250GB.

The move, which AT&T says will affect only 2 percent of its customer base, is unlikely to receive a warm welcome, according to Strategy Analytics.

“The issue is less about the actual caps—which frankly, are not terribly onerous—and more about consumer perception,” said Ben Piper, Director of the Strategy Analytics Multiplay Market Dynamics service. “Few subscribers really know what 150GB a month looks like, but if they perceive that the rules have changed against them, they will react.”

Dallas-based AT&T, with 14.3 million subscribers, is the second largest Broadband Service Provider (BSP) in the US. This new data cap policy may very likely elicit an unwelcome public relations headache, according to Piper.

“This is just as much a messaging issue as it is a network management one,” said Piper. “If, as AT&T reports, the policy affects less than 2 percent of the user base, why not quietly approach those subscribers and push for an alternative pricing plan? “

The report, “Broadband Service Provider Performance Benchmarking,” summarizes quarterly subscriber growth trends for the 29 leading BSPs operating in the United States and Canada. In addition to tracking subscribers, market shares and selected financial metrics, the report also provides operator-level subscriber forecasts for 2011. 

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