Are Phone Companies Becoming The Dinosaurs Of The Broadband World?

Back in the dark days when we were all wandering lost and disconsolate on the the Earth, you know, right before the dawn of the Internet, it made perfect sense to link up computers through the phone lines, and hence, pay the phone companies for service (followed by what felt like hours listening to the phone dialing up a connection). But times have changed, as they always do, and it seems phone companies as high-speed Internet providers are on the way out.

Subscribers are fleeing phone companies, causing the first loss of broadband subscribers for the landline phone industry for the very first time this year. Cable companies appear to be the better choice for residential and small business customers, because of the simple fact that they’re faster.

Experts say this trend could continue on into a veritable monopoly on broadband service for cable providers in some places in the country, notes the Associated Press. The AP looked at reports from the eight largest phone companies in the country, and found that they lost 70,000 total broadband subscribers from April to June of this year, while the top four cable companies padded out their customer lists with 290,000 subscribers.

While some things are changing — like the needs of customers hankering after faster and faster Internet connection speeds — some things stay the same, like our country’s often very old phone lines. They were designed for people to talk across great distances, and not really suited for carrying Internet signals.

Cable companies win with their newer cables that are better at zipping signals along at great speeds, allowing them to offer cheaper and often speedier Internet in many areas. How much faster? Cable providers have been touting download speeds of 100 megabits per second, which is 20 times faster then DSL. Yikes.

AT&T is the largest phone company offering Internet, with Verizon coming in second. Phone companies are hanging on to a 43% share of U.S. home Internet customers with broadband, a share that will likely continue to dwindle as our need for speed grows (and grows, and grows).

Some experts warn of the looming cable company monopoly, and say cable companies should share those speedy lines they use with other service-providers to even out the playing field and give customers more options when it comes to how they’re able to watch every episode of Dawson’s Creek all over again. Or whatever it is you choose to do, of course.

Phone companies lose broadband subscribers for first time [Associated Press]