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Number of U.S. broadband subscribers has grown by 1.3 million this year

It appears that the need for more wireless spectrum for nonbroadcast use is real and not imagined as the broadcast industry consistently claims, according to a new report that seems to verify the explosive growth of U.S. broadband subscribers.

The new report, from the Leichtman Research Group, states that the 19 largest cable and telephone providers in the United States — representing about 93 percent of the market —acquired nearly 1.3 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in the first quarter of 2011.

These top broadband providers now account for 76.6 million subscribers, with cable companies having 42.6 million broadband subscribers and telephone companies having almost 34 million subscribers.

Overall, broadband additions in 1Q 2011 amounted to 90 percent of those in 1Q 2010, with cable having 91 percent as many additions as a year ago, and telcos 87 percent as many additions as a year ago. The top cable companies added over 850,000 subscribers, representing 67 percent of the net broadband additions for the quarter versus the top telephone companies.

Comcast added 418,000 broadband subscribers in 1Q 2011, the most in any quarter since 1Q 2008. The top cable broadband providers have a 56 percent share of the overall market, with over 8.6 million more subscribers than the top telephone companies, compared with 7.4 million a year ago.

“Net broadband additions in 1Q 2011 were over 430,000 more than in 4Q 2010, and the most since the first quarter of 2010,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. “Cable providers had a strong quarter, acquiring two-thirds of the net broadband additions, with Comcast alone accounting for nearly one-third of all net adds in the quarter.”

Leichtman Research Group (LRG) specializes in research and analysis on broadband, media and entertainment industries.