Regional ISPs drive broadband growth in rural markets
Broadband penetration in the US rural markets has experienced double-digit growth in the past year, driven largely by regional providers continuing to capture an increasing share of the market in these areas, according to a study by comScore.
According to comScore, broadband penetration continues to make gains across rural markets, fueled by greater price competition, increased consumer demand, and growth in bandwidth-intense activities such as video streaming and peer-to-peer sharing.
The study found that broadband penetration in rural markets reached 81% in the fourth quarter of 2009, representing a sizeable increase of 13% points in the past year alone.
According to the report, regional ISPs ranked among the fastest-growing providers across several rural US markets. In Maine, TDS Telecom experienced a 101% increase in the number of broadband households, while in Montana Windstream Communications recorded a 57% gain. Frontier Communications led as the fastest-growing ISP in Nebraska (up 28%), Idaho (up 27%) and Alabama (up 26%).
Regional service providers GCI and Bresnan Communications topped the country’s three most rural markets (based on population density). GCI captured 61% of the broadband market in Alaska during, while Bresnan Communications grabbed 56% share in Wyoming and 52% share in Montana.
Brian Jurutka, senior vice president at comScore, said: “As the primary drivers of rural broadband growth, regional ISPs have the opportunity to increase their market share by delivering broadband to the millions of households still relying on dial-up services.
“Often major ISPs need to focus their strategic operations in their largest and most profitable markets, which gives smaller regional providers the opportunity to establish strongholds in more rural areas while playing a key role in national broadband expansion.”