Report predicts 12% drop in broadband subs in 09

Market research firm Pike & Fischer released a report this week predicting a 12 percent slide in broadband sign-ups in 2009. The report said approximately 5.7 million U.S. household would sign-up for broadband services in 2009, with roughly 75 percent of the new adds going to incumbent cable companies.

Pike & Fischer cited the poor economy and decreasing job security as leading indicators that the broadband market was due for a slowdown. But the report's authors were also quick to note that its predictions would need revision if the Obama administration makes broadband buildout part of the stimulus initiative. In a speech given Thursday urging swift action on a stimulus package, Obama maintained that broadband expansion initiatives would be a central part of the plan to stabilize the economy.

"Government initiatives, such as tax incentives and loan guarantees to help expand broadband infrastructure into underserved areas, could enable service providers to bolster their customer counts," Scott Sleek, director of Pike and Fischer's Broadband Advisory services, said to MSNBC. "In addition, policy-makers are likely to support training and education programs aimed at increasing customer adoption of broadband. These steps could offset what will be an inevitable slowdown in subscriber growth."

Thursday's announcement of Rich Boucher as the next chairman of the House Telecom Subcommittee could also prove to be a boon to broadband companies, as he has supported the Obama administration's pledge to build broadband in rural areas.

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