Entries in Top Ten Connections (4)


DirecTV and AT&T Narrow the Gap for Top Spots in Video, Wireless

3Q11 Connections: Ten Largest Providers

The top providers by connections in all categories remained the same in 3Q11: AT&T (NYSE:T) in wireline voice, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) in wireless and Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) in video. In wireless and video however, the second place finishers narrowed the subscriber leads in 3Q11, outgaining the top dogs for the quarter.

While AT&T has had a difficult month on the T-Mobile front, the #2 wireless provider outperformed Verizon in 3Q11. It added 2.1m wireless connections in the quarter--surpassing the 100m mark--and outgained Verizon by 700k connections. Overall, the top ten wireless providers added a combined 4.9m connections in the quarter, while the top ten wireline voice providers lost nearly 2m voice lines.

In the video top ten, it was DirecTV (Nasdaq:DTV) making a charge at #1 Comcast in 3Q11. Benefiting from the move to offer its flagship NFL Sunday Ticket package for free, the leading satellite provider added a net 327k U.S. subscribers in 3Q11—its best third quarter gain in six years. DirecTV took nearly 500k subs off of Comcast’s lead, as the leading cableco shed 165k video subs in the quarter. With 19.8m video customers, DirecTV trails Comcast by 2.6m connections. Elsewhere, AT&T and Verizon both experienced around 2.5% growth in video subs QoQ, the strongest percentage growth of the top ten providers.

In wireline voice, the four cablecos in the top ten reported slim QoQ connection gains in 3Q11, while the six LECs in the top ten shed a combined 2.1m connections in the quarter. AT&T accounted for a majority of the losses, dropping 1.2m connections, or 3% of its wireline voice customer base. The #2 and #3 wireline voice providers didn’t fair much better, as Verizon and CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) lost 478k and 254k subs QoQ in 3Q11.

Looking ahead in the top ten categories, the battle for first in wireless should be interesting to watch. After a strong 3Q11 for AT&T, its acquisition of T-Mobile is now on life support, creating some uncertainty for company. Meanwhile, through its spectrum acquisition from the cablecos, Verizon is making moves to solidify its top spot in wireless.


2Q11 Connections: Ten Largest Providers

Smartphones and Tablets Accelerate Wireless Growth 

Compared to 1Q11, there was not a lot of movement among the top communications provider rankings, as AT&T (NYSE:T) extended its lead in wireline, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) topped wireless and Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) took first place in video once again in 2Q11. While the rankings haven’t shifted much, there are some interesting trends at play within the top ten lists.

If you compare the top ten sub totals in all three categories, the wireless count continues to dwarf the video and wireline connections by increasing margins in each quarter. The upward trend in wireless is directly linked to the popularity of smartphones, and other wireless connected devices such as tablets, and netbooks. Verizon and AT&T combined to activate around 6m iPhones in 2Q11, which included nearly 1.5m new subscribers. The two wireless giants alone accounted for 205m wireless subs in 2Q11, and industry-wide there are now more wireless connections in the U.S. then there are people according to a recent CTIA report.

Elsewhere, in video, the subscriber base for the leading cablecos continued to erode in 2Q11, while satellite providers and telcos enjoyed slight gains. The top video provider, Comcast, shed a net of 238 video subs while cablecos Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) and Charter (Nasdaq:CHTR) combined to lose 225k video customers in 2Q11. Placing #2 in video, DirecTV (Nasdaq:DTV) put some distance between itself and fellow DBS provider DISH Network (Nasdaq:DISH) with 500k adds, only 26k of which however came in the United States. In the middle of the video top ten, AT&T and Verizon continued to improve penetration of their FTTx options, U-verse and FiOS, leading to moderate customer gains.

The top mover in any category was CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) in wireline, as it closed its Qwest acquisition in 2Q11, netting it Qwest’s 8.6m connections. With over 15m total wireline connections, CenturyLink jumped to third place in the wireline top ten behind AT&T (41.2m connections) and Verizon (25m connections).


1Q11 Connections: Ten Largest Providers

Verizon Tops Wireless, AT&T Largest Overall Provider

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) reclaimed the top spot in wireless subscriptions in 1Q11, while AT&T (NYSE:T) remained the quarterly leader in both the wireline and total connections categories.  Despite efforts to extend the reach of U-Verse and FiOS, AT&T and Verizon took the fifth and sixth spots in the video category—trailing leader Comcast by nearly 17m subs. 

Overall, the main story of the quarter was VZ’s jump to number one in wireless, albeit pending AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile.  The February introduction of the Verizon iPhone no doubt fueled Verizon’s leap to the top spot.  Verizon activated 2.2m iPhones and 0.5m other 4G devices during 1Q11. 

By contrast, the wireline category remained relatively stable in 1Q11 as telcos slowly shed connections.  The top three providers, AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink/Qwest (NYSE:CTL) combined to lose over 2m wireline connections in the first quarter, as voice losses outweighed gains in video and broadband.

Comcast’s (Nasdaq:CMCSA) near 23m subs rendered it the top video service provider once again, followed by satellite providers DirecTV (Nasdaq:DTV) and DISH Network (Nasdaq:DISH).  Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), which ranked fourth, actually lost video customers in 1Q11.  A video trend to watch is whether telcos can continue to gain ground on the cablecos and DBS providers—as Verizon and AT&T posted moderate video gains in the first quarter.


4Q10 Ten Largest Providers

Not Surprisingly, AT&T and Verizon Top the Charts

For both wireline and wireless voice service, AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) were the top two providers at the end of 2010, while in the video category, AT&T came in fifth and Verizon ranked seventh—had AT&T not sold its cable ops to Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) a few years back, it would probably be number 1 in all three categories!  The company edged past Verizon in the fourth quarter to take the number one spot in wireless, with 95.5m subs, and of course the pending acquisition of T-Mobile, if it goes through, will firmly cement AT&T in the top wireless slot.

In the wireline voice category, Qwest’s 8.9m connections ranked it third; now that the CenturyLink/ Qwest (NYSE:CTL) deal is done, the combined company will remain in third place, with more than 15m wireline voice connections. 

Comcast remained the top video service provider, with 22.8m subs, followed by satellite concerns DirecTV (Nasdaq:DTV) and DISH Network (Nasdaq:DISH), with 19.2m and 14.1m subs, respectively.  Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) ranked fourth, with 12.4m subscribers.