Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

It's Like Cord-Cutting, Only In Reverse: Big Cable Keeps Adding Broadband Subs

Get a cable company guy comfortable enough to talk candidly about cord-cutting, and he’ll concede that yes, maybe, perhaps it’s true: Some folks may indeed be getting their video from the Web instead of a cable box.

But! Even if that’s the case, they’ll add, those cord-cutters aren’t really cord-cutters: They’re still tethered to a cord that brings them the Web, which the cable guys supply, too.

And here they absolutely have a point. While most cord-cutting stories focus on disappearing video subscribers (mea culpa), they almost always ignore what’s happening to the number of broadband subscribers. Which keeps growing.

In Q1 of this year, for example, the biggest cable and telco companies added 1.3 million broadband subs, a bump of about 1.8 percent. That’s not go-go growth, but it’s plenty healthy, especially since broadband subs are particularly profitable for Comcast et al.

Here’s the breakdown, via Leichtman Research:

TV cord-cutting plus Internet cord-adding does lead you to a separate discussion about capping or metering broadband, as more and more people stream more and more video from the likes of Netflix. Which is why Netflix itself has been hollering loudly about the issue. But for now, it’s not an issue for most consumers.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik