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Telecom Q4 results show DSL fading, fiber and cable services booming

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Fourth quarter results from AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable show that DSL customers are leaving in droves and that many are switching to fiber and cable high-speed services. AT&T lost 636,000 DSL customers in the quarter.

Internet Ethernet
Internet Ethernet

You were probably pretty happy when DSL made its way into your home, but now it looks like it's taking a back seat to faster, more modern alternatives. It's that time of year when lots of companies release their earnings, and a look at Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable's results shows that many are moving on from the phone line-based service to faster options. Verizon reports that it lost 103,000 DSL customers last month for a total loss of 457,000 year over year. Meanwhile, the telecom gained a total of 735,000 users on its faster FiOS internet service last year. It's a similar picture for AT&T: the company parted ways with 636,000 DSL customers last quarter, but gained 587,000 U-verse internet users. Time Warner Cable's numbers show that people are picking up cable internet service as well: it gained 130,000 internet users last quarter alone.

This all makes plenty of sense as more and more people stream videos and generally need more bandwith. However, these high-speed cable and fiber services are only available for users in highly populated areas — DSL remains the best option for many in the rural US. It's safe to assume that DSL services are going to stagnate as Verizon and AT&T focus their resources on their fiber networks and on making deals to improve and build their wireless LTE services. However, there's good news for the future: FCC rulings and partnerships should ultimately bring LTE to these areas, which is a faster technology anyway.