Report: Pandemic Drove 4.9 Million Broadband Additions Among Top ISPs in 2020

With more consumers housebound due to the pandemic, subscriptions for high-speed Internet, or broadband, grew significantly, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group. The Durham, N.H.-based firm found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired more than 4.8 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 2020, compared with a gain of about 2.55 million subs in 2019.

The following broadband providers now account for 105.8 million subs, with cable companies accounting for 72.8 million broadband subs, and telecoms having 33 million subs.

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Overall, broadband additions in 2020 were 190% higher than in 2019, and more than in any year since 2008. Cable companies added about 4.82 million subs compared to 3.15 million adds in 2019, and the most in any year since 2006.

Charter’s 2.21 million broadband additions were more than any company had in a year since 2006. Telecoms added about 40,000 subs compared to a loss of about 590,000 subs in 2019. The industry had positive net annual broadband adds for the first time since 2014. At the end of 2020, cable had a 69% market share vs. 31% for telecoms.

“With the impact of the pandemic, there were more net broadband additions in 2020 than in any year since 2008,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “The top cable and telecom providers in the U.S. cumulatively added about 4.86 million subs in 2020, compared to about 5.1 million subs in 2018 and 2019 combined.”

Broadband Providers Subscribers at end of 4Q 2020 Net Adds in 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 30.6 million 1.97 million
Charter 28.9 million 2.21 million
Cox 5.38 million 210,000
Altice 4.36 million 142,200
Mediacom 1.43 million 110,000
Cable One 857,000 101,000
WOW 813,800 32,300
Atlantic Broadband 504,621 37,871
Total Top Cable 72.8 million 4.82 million
Telecoms
AT&T 15.4 million (5,000)
Verizon 7.12 million 173,000
CenturyLink/Lumen 4.54 million (134,000)
Frontier 3.1 million (111,000)
Windstream 1.1 million 60,000
Consolidated 792,200 8,035
TDS 493,300 38,100
Cincinnati Bell 436,100 10,400
Total Telecom 32.9 million 39,535
Total Broadband 105.8 million 4.85 million
Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

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