Comcast and Time Warner continue to grow despite consumer complaints

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Cable broadband companies in the U.S. added significant numbers to their subscriber base in the third quarter of this year with Comcast and Time Warner Cable seeing the most gains.

In total, companies added 840,000 new subscribers in the quarter, according to Strategy Analytics, and Comcast and Time Warner Cable accounted for 552,000 of those customers.

“Over the past twelve months, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have accounted for 71 percent of the 3 million new broadband subscribers,” said the firm’s new report, which surveyed 19 ISPs offering broadband.

Comcast comes out on top for the most amount of new subscribers acquired in this quarter. In third place was Charter, which is in an acquisition process with Time Warner Cable. It added 147,000 new subscribers.

Competitors AT&T and Verizon are struggling by comparison. In the same quarter AT&T lost 106,000 subscribers and Verizon added just 2,000.

This is good news for broadband companies. The average revenue per user (ARPU) grew from two percent to seven percent, said the report. Strategy Analytics accredited much of this value growth to investments made in infrastructure to improve speeds for customers.

Strategy Analytics’ research focuses on cable broadband and, as it points out, this option remains the best one in many areas for customers looking for high speed broadband. Meanwhile, DSL subscriptions have fallen as the technology struggles to keep up with cable’s speed.

Fiber is growing, but availability is still limited, and it and doesn’t command the same type of numbers in the bigger picture. In its Q3 earnings call, Verizon said it gained 114,000 new fiber customers, but this is down from 162,000 last year. AT&T hasn’t specified its fiber numbers.

In the long term, though, fiber may become strong competition for cable broadband.

“Fiber growth is still strong, but the Telco operators haven’t been able to shake off the losses of DSL subscribers,” said Strategy Analytics’ Jason Blackwell, adding that 2016 will be a year where we see increasing competition among broadband providers.

While these numbers are great for cable ISPs, they may be worrying to consumer advocates. Its not secret that Comcast and Time Warner Cable are poorly regarded by subscribers, yet they continue to gain customers. This is likely because many users have no other viable option. Unfortunately, the slow acceleration of fiber means the situation is unlikely to improve soon.


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