2020 was a banner year for broadband providers in the U.S. With millions working and attending school from home, there were more net broadband additions in 2020 than in any year since 2008, according to Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst with Leichtman Research Group.
In 2020, the number of broadband subscriber additions were 4.86 million, which is 190% more than the 2.55 million broadband customers that cable and telco companies added in 2019.
Cable providers represent the largest share of the broadband market with 72.8 million customers and a 69% share of the market. Meanwhile, telecom providers have 33 million broadband customers for a 31% share of the U.S. broadband market, according to Leichtman.
Wireline companies, in particular, benefited from broadband growth in 2020. The top wireline providers added about 40,000 subscribers in 2020, compared to a loss of 590,000 subscribers in 2019. This is the first time the telcos have had positive net annual broadband additions since 2014. Verizon had the most net adds in 2020 with 173,000. Windstream was next in line, with 60,000 net adds in 2020.
Telcos have been working hard to stem their broadband losses by aggressively expanding their fiber within their footprints. Much of their broadband losses over the past few years have come from customers abandoning their slower DSL services in lieu of faster broadband speeds.
Cable companies, meanwhile, added 4.82 million net new subscribers in 2020 compared to 3.14 million net adds in 2019. This was the biggest increase since 2006. Charter Communications added the most broadband customers in 2020 with 2.21 million net adds. This was the most any company has added since 2006. Comcast also had a strong year, adding 1.97 million net adds in 2020.