Following the national trend, Florida consumers continued to shift from landline telephone service to wireless and cable/VoIP services in 2017. Data also indicates that residential migration might be increasing slightly. Carriers reported about 17 percent fewer wireline access lines in Florida than in 2016, according to the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) annual Report on the Status of Competition in the Telecommunications Industry.
“The telecommunications sector continues to be a critical force for economic growth and innovation in Florida,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “Companies are competing and delivering a wide range of services, satisfying consumers’ needs.”
AT&T, CenturyLink, and Frontier Florida—Florida’s largest incumbent local exchange carriers providing traditional landline service—continued their access line losses in the 2017 national wireline market. In the Florida market, CenturyLink experienced a 25.5 percent decline in residential access lines, while AT&T declined 22.4 percent and Frontier declined 24.8 percent for the same period.
AT&T and Frontier’s mix of residential and business wirelines are slowly shifting toward business lines, which now comprise about 53 percent of their access lines. Competitors have nearly 99 percent of their accounts in the business sector.
As in past years, VoIP and broadband drove the telecommunications markets in 2017. There are an estimated 21.5 million wireless handsets in Florida and more than 4.5 million cable VoIP connections. According to the FCC, 94 percent of households in Florida had fixed broadband connections of at least 200 kbps at the end of June 2016.
Commissioners requested additional information, if available, from the Federal Communications Commission on Florida’s telephone outages and restoration times during the 2017 hurricane season. They also encouraged continued awareness for those eligible to sign up for Lifeline, the discounted telecommunications/broadband service. The Lifeline participation rate decreased by 8.5 percent from the prior year due, in part, to the decreased participation rate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a main eligibility criterion.
Delivered to the Florida Legislature by August 1 each year, the PSC report compiled data from Florida telecommunications companies for a 12-month period ending December 31, 2017. Access the entire report here.
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