US broadband take-up to decline 12% in '09

Broadband take-up in the US will decline 12% in 2009, with just 5.7 million households signing up to broadband services, according to a new report.

Pike & Fisher's (P&F) Broadband Competition Outlook 2009 predicts that domestic broadband penetration will reach nearly 74.5 million by the end of the year, representing about 63% of all US households.

Unfortunately for America's largest operators, around 75% of new broadband subscribers will choose cable. DSL is increasingly being spurned by US customers, due to its slower speeds.

The country's top operators - including Verizon and AT&T - only offer DSL in the majority of their service areas. 

P&F attributes the projected decline mostly to the economic crisis rather than market saturation or the increased popularity of wireless. Nevertheless, the firm expects the national trend away from landlines will continue, with an overall decline of 16% to 86 million.

But P&F broadband advisory director Scott Sleek believes that president-elect Obama's proposed broadband stimulus package could allow broadband growth to exceed these forecasts.

"Government initiatives, such as tax incentives and loan guarantees to help expand broadband infrastructure into underserved areas, could enable service providers to bolster their customer counts," Sleek said.

"In addition, policy-makers are likely to support training and education programs aimed at increasing customer adoption of broadband. These steps could offset what will be an inevitable slowdown in subscriber growth."