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Cable Technology Feature Article

February 17, 2010

FCC Data Shows Mobile Broadband Growth

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

High-speed Internet access connections to U.S. homes and businesses using fixed networks increased by 10 percent during 2008, to 77 million, the Federal Communications Commission says. The annual rate of increase was 17 percent during 2007. 
The data is backward looking, but the slower growth rate is not surprising. New subscribers are being added to a larger installed base, so growth rates would naturally decline. Also, most people who want fixed broadband already buy it. But there is a new wrinkle: the FCC (News - Alert) now is tracking mobile broadband as well as fixed connections. 
At year-end 2008, 25 million mobile wireless service subscribers also had mobile devices (such as laptops and smartphones) with high-speed data plans for full Internet access. Parks Associates (News - Alert) estimates are that 46 million U.S. subscribers had mobile broadband connections in 2008, so it is possible the 2009 figures will be quite a lot higher when the FCC reports 2009 numbers. 
Parks Associates predicted there would be 56 million mobile broadband customers by the end of 2009, for example. 
Cable modem connections increased 14 percent while digital subscriber line connections increased three percent during 2008, to 41 million cable modem connections and 30 million DSL connections. Cable modem increases were partly due to more-comprehensive reporting by small cable systems. 
Together, residential DSL and FTTP connections increased by four percent during 2008 to 29 million. A 56 percent increase in total fiber-to-premises connections, to three million, also occurred.
There were 86 million residential high-speed connections at year-end 2008, of which 70 million were fixed-technology connections and 16 million were mobile wireless subscribers with data plans for full Internet access.
Of the 86 million residential high-speed connections at year-end 2008, cable modem represented 46 percent, DSL represented 31 percent, mobile wireless subscribers with data plans for full Internet access represented 18 percent, FTTP represented three percent and all other technologies represented one percent.
Over the next several years, the big change one might anticipate is a significant change in the percentage of all broadband connections provided by mobile networks. 

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi