- Published: 23 August 2017 23 August 2017
Cable up to 64% of the market. For a decade, telcos held on to 45% of the market in the U.S. But AT&T and Verizon haven't upgraded almost half their lines, planning to go wireless only to 10's of millions of homes. (One network is cheaper than two.) The other U.S telcos have done even less, keeping dividends far higher than earnings and skimping on capex.
Customers are fleeing DSL networks that often are ten and fifteen years old. The U.S. has cable to 92%, with most offering 50 megs standard. Comcast's primary offering is 100 megabits and they just extended a gig of DOCSIS 3.1 to Boston and Philadelphia. Frontier lost 101,000 subs and Century 77,000. Verizon's once world-leading fiber network wasn't to prevent a loss of 23,000 customers. The saddest story is AT&T. They have added 5M lines of fiber the last two years and spent $67B on DirecTV, seeking an expanded customer base. Despite that, they lost 9,000 customers.
That's a rounding error but AT&T should have been growing. Charter is up 267K on the quarter and Comcast 175K. Overall, 230K added broadband. Overall, U.S. wireline growth is less than the population increase. There is a minor erosion to wireless, probably 5-10% of households.
"CenturyLink, Frontier, Windstream suffer worst 3 quarters in history," Sean Buckley writes. Both Century and Frontier have added superb engineers but the financial problems give them few options. Century has lost 20% of their market value this year in an up market. The Level 3 deal is on very favorable terms, but a dividend cut is inevitable.
Frontier has gone down 80%. The market cap is $945M despite ~$8B in sales, a level implying many on Wall Street believe bankruptcy is imminent. I disagree. Their financials suggest they can hold off for several years, although that may not be a wise move. Both companies should have suspended dividends a few years ago if they weren't de facto liquidating.
In Canada, England, and France, telcos are beating cable.
Data from Bruce Leichtman, who has been highly accurate in the past.