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Broadband companies grabbing bigger slice of wireless pie

A still frame from a promotional video for Charter's Spectrum Mobile telephone service. (Image courtesy Charter Communications, Graphic by The Desk)
A still frame from a promotional video for Charter’s Spectrum Mobile telephone service. (Image courtesy Charter Communications, Graphic by The Desk)

Land-based broadband providers like Comcast and Charter drew a larger portion of new wireless net additions during the first three months of the year when compared to the wireless companies themselves, according to a new research note from Craig Moffett.

The note, circulated on Thursday, says cable broadband providers grabbed 75 percent of net wireless additions during the first quarter (Q1) of 2024 as more customers flock to low-cost wireless plans offered by their Internet service providers.

The trend is continuing, despite Comcast, Charter and others reporting a slowdown in net new additions to their land-based broadband products — and, in some cases, logging a year-over loss in new customers.

Those customers are largely switching to fixed wireless services offered by T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, which leverage their existing 4G LTE and 5G networks to bring broadband connection speeds into homes without connecting directly to a wall jack.

A chart showing net customer additions to cable wireless phone service over time.
(Chart courtesy MoffettNathanson)

Meanwhile, the Big Three wireless providers have reported sluggish net new customer additions to their core product — wireless phone plans — creating an interesting scenario where broadband and wireless companies are impeding on each other’s turf.

Moffett suggests land-based broadband companies stand to benefit the most, because they can make uniform offers to all their customers, regardless of where they live: If a Comcast customer can get Xfinity Internet, they can also get Xfinity Mobile, which uses Verizon’s wireless towers.

The same isn’t necessarily true for the wireless companies: T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T are offering their best wireless home and small business Internet services in areas where their 4G LTE and 5G networks are robust. The situation means some residents and businesses may be able to subscribe to fixed wireless Internet offered by a company, while others in the same city cannot, simply because of where they live or work.

While all three companies do have land-based fiber offerings, their service footprints pale in comparison to Comcast, Charter and others. AT&T Fiber only reaches around 12 percent of the country, Moffett notes. Verizon Fios is much smaller, and T-Mobile’s fiber product is limited to a handful of cities, meaning they “simply don’t support a converged offering,” he said.

 

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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