FWA takes near 7% share of US broadband market

  • Fixed wireless access (FWA) is increasingly popular in the US
  • The introduction of 5G-enabled FWA by T-Mobile US and Verizon has changed the broadband services landscape
  • Cable broadband still dominates the market but it’s in decline, as is telco wireline broadband

Following two years of significant subscriber uptake for the services offered by T-Mobile US and Verizon, fixed wireless access (FWA) accounted for 7.84 million broadband connections in the US at the end of 2023, 6.8% of the total 114.7 million broadband lines active in the country, according to research firm Leichtman Research Group. 

Cable operator broadband services have long dominated the US market, challenged only by telco wireline (including fibre-to-the-premises) services – until 5G lit a fire under the FWA sector. 

During the past two years, T-Mobile US and Verizon have marketed their low-cost and easy-to-install 5G-enabled FWA services to the US public, taking the FWA broadband sector from a tiny slice of the market serviced by 4G and unlicensed spectrum-based service offerings to one that now commands almost 7% of the total broadband services market. 

In 2023, T-Mobile and Verizon jointly added 3.67 million FWA customers to take the total to 7.84 million, and that number is set to grow again this year as the duo continue to push their FWA offerings and AT&T gets up and running with the Internet Air service it unveiled last August. T-Mobile US ended last year with 4.77 million FWA customers (it refers to them as high-speed internet customers), while Verizon ended 2023 with 3.07 million FWA customers. 

While the FWA services sector is booming, the cable and wireline broadband services sectors are in decline, albeit slight, according to the numbers collated by the Leichtman Research team

There were 76.1 million cable broadband lines in use across the US at the end of last year, about 63,000 fewer than a year earlier: That will be a concern for the cable operator community as the number had grown by 530,000 in 2022, noted the Leichtman Research team. Comcast had 32.25 million cable broadband customers, slightly down year on year, while Charter Communications managed to increase its user base slightly during the year to almost 30.6 million. Altice is the next biggest player with about 4.5 million customers, though its broadband user base shrunk by about 114,000 last year. 

Telco wireline broadband services accounted for 30.75 million connections at the end of 2023, slightly down from a year earlier. AT&T ended 2023 with almost 15.3 million fixed broadband connections but that number dipped by 98,000 during the year, while Verizon managed to grow its total by about 166,000 to reach 7.65 million (so it managed to grow both its fixed line and FWA broadband subscriber bases). Frontier Communications is the next largest player with 2.94 million broadband lines, up slightly during 2023.   

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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