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A telecom industry research firm (Pivot Media) says that the number of new broadband connections is slowing down in both rural and urban communities. Throughout most of 2008, rural areas were adding broadband connections at a faster rate than urban regions, according to Pivot Media’s survey. But the rate of growth across the country slowed significantly in both rural and urban areas — a function of both the economic slowdown and the fact that rapid increases in broadband connections couldn’t be sustained. By the fourth quarter of 2008, rural connections were about 2 percent above those in the third quarter. In urban areas, however, connections were up 3 percent over the fourth quarter.
Pivot Media reports that the “heyday of broadband growth culminated in 2006…” By 2008, “we began to see much slower growth in both urban and rural markets.” The slowdown was particularly acute in rural areas. In the first quarter of 2008, new rural broadband connections were running 26% above the first quarter of 2007. By the fourth quarter, rural broadband growth was 12.4 percent above the same quarter in ’07.
Both rural and urban markets were seeing a decline in landlines. This is a slow, steady change in the way people use phones. In the fourth quarter of 2008, there were 7 percent fewer landlines in rural areas than the year before. In urban areas, the decline from 2007 was over 10 percent. All together, rural carriers are doing better than urban ones. They are gaining broadband users at a faster rate and they are losing fewer landlines.