It’s been a little more than two years since T-Mobile entered the broadband business with its 5G home internet service, and the wireless carrier has already made an impression. Given its momentum, it could end 2023 as the fifth-largest internet service provider in the U.S.
T-Mobile ended the third quarter with 4.2 million subscribers, notching an additional 557,000 in the period. The current No. 5 player, Altice, boasts 4.5 million subscribers after losing 30,700 customers. If T-Mobile continues its pace of growth — which has been fairly consistent over the last few quarter — it will eclipse Altice in the fourth quarter.
You can see a good breakdown of the various players and their subscriber bases from Leichtman Research Group, which published its study on Monday. PC Mag first reported on T-Mobile potentially surpassing Altice.
The numbers illustrate the rapid ascent of 5G home internet service, which outstrips the growth of the rest of the broadband industry, with cable seeing only minor growth and DSL lines in rapid decline. The service, considered part of cord cutting 2.0, has proven popular with consumers thanks to its straightforward pricing and the easy set up and installation process.
T-Mobile would have a long way to go before advancing further up the leaderboard. Comcast remains the nation’s largest broadband provider, with 32.3 million, followed by Charter’s Spectrum service, which has 30.6 million. They’re followed by the two telecom giants, with AT&T ending the period with a base of 15.3 million and Verizon with a base of 10.2 million. Both companies have a mix of 5G home internet and fiber, as well as continued losses in DSL.
Growth in internet service has essentially been all in 5G home service. T-Mobile and Verizon combined to add 941,000 customers in the third quarter. AT&T, which came out of test mode and “launched” in 16 initial markets in the third quarter, chipped in another 25,000 customers. The top cable providers added just 4,777 new customers thanks to declines in Comcast and Altice.
It’s unclear how much more room T-Mobile has with its 5G home internet service. CEO Mike Sievert said he expects it to be a single-digit million opportunity, suggesting a ceiling of around 9 million subscribers. The company could further drive growth by investing in the infrastructure to deliver 5G home internet to more people, but Sievert said it hasn’t committed to that yet.