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Does Competition Between Cable and Fiber Increase Adoption?


WASHINGTON (April 28, 2021) – Using Census-tract-level data from 2017-2019, TPI’s President Scott Wallsten finds that the presence of both cable and fiber providers does not lead to more broadband adoption than the presence of either cable or fiber by themselves, either overall or among low-income people.

In his new paper, “Does Competition Between Cable and Fiber Increase Adoption?,” Wallsten hypothesizes that this phenomena may be a result of several factors. The availability of wireless alternatives may mean that it does not make sense to consider wireline providers by themselves. This may hold particularly true for low-income households who move more frequently than higher-income households and may therefore have less demand for a service tied to a single location. He also believes it is possible that broadband demand has become inelastic enough that the number of connections may not be significantly affected by changes in price, and providers may choose to compete with each other for existing subscribers rather than gearing their efforts towards households that have yet to be connected. While competition amongst ISPs serves to benefit consumers across many dimensions, it is unlikely to hold the key to universal broadband adoption.

To learn more, you can access the full paper on our website.

Contact: Lindsay Poss,

The Technology Policy Institute
The Technology Policy Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that focuses on the economics of innovation, technological change, and related regulation in the United States and around the world. More information is available at