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The US internet service providers market has greatly benefited from the move toward ubiquitous internet access and the exponential growth of internet traffic.
Through the five years leading up to 2012 industry revenue has grown at an annualised rate of 2.3% to hit a market value of $47.9 billion. Furthermore, regulatory overhaul in 2012 will necessitate government-subsidised network expansion and increase the number of US broadband connections, driving revenue growth.
Access to the Internet can be divided into dial-up and broadband access. Around the start of the 21st century, most residential access was by dial-up, while access from businesses was usually by higher speed connections.
In subsequent years dial-up declined in favour of broadband access. Both types of access generally use a modem, which converts digital data to analog for transmission over a particular analog network.
Business customers have emerged as the most lucrative growth market in the Internet Service Providers (ISP) industry. The increasing adoption of cloud computing (which involves accessing data and software through the internet) is boosting demand for high-speed access services.
Additionally, ISPs are increasing their array of value-added services, acquiring cloud and infrastructure consulting firms to profit further from the business market.
The leading broadband provider in the United States is SBC Communications (AT&T) with 14.8 million subscribers as of the third quarter of 2008. SBC is followed by Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon. And while there are many cable companies offering broadband services in the United States, three are seen as the main providers: Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox Communications.
The United States has over 67.7 million people subscribed to the top broadband providers, which accounts for 94% of the market.
In measurements made between January and June 2011, the United States ranked 26th globally in terms of the speed of its broadband Internet connections, with an average measured speed of 4.93 Mbit/s. South Korea led the list with an average of 17.62 Mbit/s, followed by Romania (15.27 Mbit/s) and Bulgaria (12.89 Mbit/s).
In recent years, consumers have increasingly viewed the internet as a necessity rather than a luxury, a perception that will only become more widespread over the coming years. As internet traffic continues to increase, ISPs will exercise more control over their networks and will likely restructure their pricing to a usage-based model, which likely elicit strong opposition from consumers.
For more information on the US internet service providers market, see the latest research: US Internet Service Providers Market
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