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Expand chart
Data: S&P Global; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A new report from Kagan, the media research unit of S&P Global, shows that broadband subscriber growth has "cooled significantly in the third quarter," stalling in growth for the first time in three years.

Why it matters: The decline can be attributed to "a difficult comparison with the booming gains of 2020," the report says.

  • Ian Olgeirson, a research director at Kagan, says that an increase in the adoption of 5G alternatives, such as mobile hotspots and fixed wireless plans, may have also contributed to the slowed growth of broadband subscriptions.

Be smart: While broadband subscriber growth has slowed, each household's broadband use is expected to stay high.

  • Earlier this year, experts said they expected increased broadband usage to continue after the pandemic.
  • Olgeirson says remote work and school forced households to prioritize broadband connectivity during the pandemic, and "subscriptions surged during that period."

What to watch: The Federal Communications Commission in May launched a program to help low-income households pay for internet service by offering a $50 a month discount to their monthly broadband bills.

  • The Emergency Broadband Benefit program has enrolled more than 7.6 million households so far. But it's not clear if those households previously had internet service or if the program is paying for new connections.
  • The data indicates that nearly 68% of program subscribers are using the benefit to pay for mobile broadband, while slightly less than 32% are using it for cable, fiber or other home internet service.

John Horrigan, a senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, told Axios he thinks the program is getting new households online based on survey data out of Philadelphia.

  • "I think it is having an impact on groups that have been way behind on broadband adoption — namely low-income households and communities of color," Horrigan told Axios.

What's next: The newly-passed infrastructure bill includes $65 billion to improve high-speed internet access and affordability.

  • $14.2 billion of that funding will be used to provide a $30-a-month voucher to low-income Americans to pay for internet service. That will replace the current $50-a-month program, offering less money monthly but widening the pool of those eligible.

Go deeper

Coming in 2022: A big leap in smart home technology

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Starting next year, consumers will be able to buy smart home devices — like thermostats, lighting systems and kitchen appliances — that can talk to one another through a new connectivity standard called Matter.

Why it matters: Interoperability of home devices has long been a distant dream, but big boys like Amazon, Google and Apple have coalesced around Matter, hoping it will become a common brand name governing the Internet of Things (IoT).

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 mins ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.