ATandT, Verizon Drive Internet Traffic for Small Businesses: ComScore

The top five ISPs accounted for nearly 70 percent of all traffic in the large business segment in September 2011.

A study from digital business analytics firm comScore showed AT&T leading the U.S. business ISP market with 20 percent of all browser-based Internet page views (i.e., traffic) in September 2011, followed by Verizon with a 12 percent share of the market. CenturyLink, which merged with Qwest in April 2011, ranked as the third largest business ISP at 7 percent share.

The five largest business ISPs drove nearly 50 percent of business Internet traffic across the United States the report found.

A more detailed look into the business ISP market according to the size of businesses being served revealed AT&T to be the leading business ISP in the large, medium and small business segments.

In addition, the top five ISPs accounted for nearly 70 percent of all traffic in the large business segment in September 2011. In contrast, the share of traffic driven by the top five ISPs was significantly lower within the medium (56 percent) and small business (40 percent) segments.

According to the report, the small business segment is the most competitive for business ISPs, with nearly 40 percent of traffic driven by ISPs that rank outside of the top 10 carriers for this segment. While AT&T continues to lead all ISPs for small businesses, its 13 percent market share is significantly lower than its share in the large and medium business segments. Comcast (8 percent) and Verizon (7 percent) rounded out the top three ISPs in the small business segment.

"The current state of the domestic business ISP market reveals a landscape led by a couple of top providers. However, even with smaller carriers contributing only a fraction of the traffic delivered by top carriers, the business ISP market is still more competitive than the residential ISP market," said Greg Mishkin, comScore vice president of telecom and wireless. "The small business segment is even more competitive among ISPs, highlighting the need for providers to develop strong marketing strategies to ensure they can retain and grow market share."

The company's analysis of the top 10 U.S. local markets shows AT&T holding the top position in the majority of these markets in September 2011. Verizon led in three of the top 10 markets, including New York, the country's largest local market. Similar to what was observed at the national level, the competition for business ISPs increases among smaller businesses. In the small business segment, Comcast and AT&T each ranked as the top ISP in four of the top 10 local markets, while Verizon and Cablevision each led in one local market.

An analysis of the business ISP leaders for different industries revealed AT&T drove approximately 30 percent of traffic in the financial services and health care and medical industries in September 2011, showing a notable lead over other ISPs. In contrast, the telecommunications and software and technology industries showed greater market fragmentation among business ISPs, with the leading providers driving less than one-fifth of traffic in these markets, followed closely by their competitors. Verizon and CenturyLink/Qwest ranked among the top three business ISPs for several industries as well.