Major Wireline Broadband ISPs Added About 53,000 Customers in Third Quarter

Nov 09, 2023

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband

Washington, D.C., Nov. 9, 2023 – Major cable and telco broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) gained 52,742 new customers during the third quarter of 2023. This slight uptick in customer acquisitions comes as ISPs face increased competition from fixed wireless access (FWA) providers while continuing to cope with the challenges of higher inflation and interest rates in addition to delays in accessing essential infrastructure like utility poles.

The ISPs, all publicly traded firms or a subsidiary, collectively served 98.47 million wireline customers at the end of the third quarter. The surging FWA sector, primarily T-Mobile and Verizon, closed out the same quarter with a combined 7.03 million subscribers. The two FWA leaders together tacked on about 900,000 new subscribers in the third quarter alone. The wireline and wireless ISPs together served 105.5 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter.

The third quarter figures did not include results of Cox and Mediacom as both are closely held companies. Windstream released third-quarter totals, but companywide broadband results were not clearly identified so they were excluded. And the numbers do not include Starlink's 2 million satellite broadband subscribers globally.

The broadband industry has been a focal point for both consumers and businesses as Internet connectivity remains a crucial element of daily life. In the face of these market dynamics, established ISPs have been battling it out for market share and dominance.

Broadband executives have been acknowledging that the competitive pricing and convenience offered by FWA has caused many price-sensitive consumers to reevaluate their options, creating a heightened challenge for traditional broadband providers.

On Wednesday, disruption within the broadband ISP sector could be seen in the third quarter results of Colorado-based WideOpenWest, Inc., which reported a loss of 4,400 broadband subscribers.

During a call with Wall Street analysts, WOW CEO Teresa Elders said she expected the fourth quarter to be ‘significantly worse.’ In Thursday trading on Wall Street, WOW’s stock fell nearly 57 percent. WOW had 503,400 broadband subscribers at the end of third quarter.

Broadband ISPs are also under intense regulatory pressure in Washington, D.C. The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Nov. 15 to adopt tough “digital discrimination” rules that could inject the agency deeper into the affairs of broadband network providers. According to Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, the FCC could use language in the digital discrimination rules to “regulate broadband pricing and even an ISP’s profitability.”

And next year, the FCC is expected to adopt Net Neutrality rules, which would prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful traffic and from accepting payment in exchange for providing third-parties prioritized service on the network. Major ISPs – which view the rules as unnecessary and an obstacle to nationwide broadband access – are expected to challenge the FCC's digital discrimination and Net Neutrality rules in court.