Are Americans Really Cutting the Cord?

A recent report from Leichtman Research Group sheds new light on how Americans are choosing to access high speed internet (HSI) and pay video services. The analysis suggests that more Americans are accessing the internet through their cable providers while at the same time “cutting the cord” on pay-tv subscriptions overall.

According to the report, cable companies now service about 63% of all HSI subscriptions in the US with two providers – Comcast and Charter – servicing about 80% of those. Comcast dominates the HSI space with nearly 25MM subscribers, but second place Charter (with 23MM subscribers) led the pack in terms of net subscriber growth. Charter added 1.6MM new subscribers in 2016 while Comcast added 1.4MM. All in, cable operators added 3MM HSI subscribers in 2016 while the phone companies lost 600K.

While Americans are overwhelmingly gravitating toward cable operators for their high-speed access to the internet, they seem to be migrating away from those same companies for their pay TV services. Cable companies saw a net loss of about 275K TV subscribers and phone companies lost approximately 1.5MM (AT&T U-verse alone lost 1.4MM TV subscribers). Satellite service providers actually saw a net gain in TV subscribers in 2016 but there was a fair amount of volatility in the space. Dish lost 1MM subscribers while satellite leader DirecTV picked up 1.2MM.

As for why Americans are choosing cable over phone for HSI, some speculate that cable’s traditionally faster speeds are a prime driver of adoption. Because cable internet throughput isn’t as dependent on proximity to a central office (CO), speed and signal tend to be more consistent. For many, the higher speeds can offset some of the perceived drawbacks of cable such as increased network congestion during peak traffic hours.

As for why some TV viewers are “cutting the cord”, the rise of paid streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and others is certainly a factor. That said, since these video services require a broadband connection, providers of HSI are still firmly in control of the wallet share.

Whether the data flows through the cable provider or the phone company, or whether TV viewers choose to stream or remained tethered to their receivers, it’s all the same to those of us in the air filtration world. High speed data and video demands are greater than ever which is putting even greater demand on today’s network infrastructure.

One of the keys to ensuring maximum uptime and throughput is disciplined filter management, design considerations, and maintenance. Equipment must operate consistently within an acceptable temperature range to avoid overheat shutdown due to lack of sufficient wattage dissipation. UAF stands by our customers supplying OEM equipment or maintaining cable headend systems, servers, routers, and switches, within these critical environments by meeting air filtration needs with design support, free prototypes, standards compliance, site surveys for air filter replacements, and short lead times.