Fibre Optic Connections Boost World Broadband Users to 654.6 Million

The latest Point Topic report for Q1-2013 reveals that the total number of global broadband subscribers has grown by 2% (12.5 million) in the quarter to hit 654,600,000 (up from 643.7m in Q4-2012), which remains fairly flat but continues to be fuelled by the rollout of new superfast fibre optic (FTTH, FTTC etc.) connectivity.

Overall, world broadband subscribers saw an annual growth of nearly 8% and the East Asia region continues to have the largest share of the market (37%), which is primarily being driven by the dominance of China. Indeed East Asia also accounts for 49% of all net additions across the world.

But the real news is the way that a new generation of superfast fibre optic (FTTH/P/B) and hybrid fibre (FTTx/FTTC) technologies are continuing to add new connections and cannibalise others from the old methods of slower copper (ADSL/ADSL2+) services. It’s noted that copper services declined by 2.77m subscribers in Q1-2013 and that’s up sharply from the 415,000 lost in Q4-2012.

As a result of this the overall market share of all fibre optic technologies (hybrid and full fibre) is now 22% (up from 20.78% in Q4-2012), which puts it just ahead of cable services (e.g. Virgin Media) that have held fairly stable at around 19%.

This of course still leaves copper broadband with just over half of the whole market and the most dominant method of internet connectivity, albeit one that is clearly in a slow decline. Fibre solutions are continuing to expand and thus we’d expect to see this trend in copper decline increasing.

The United Kingdom itself is home to around 22 million fixed line broadband ISP subscribers (here), which is incidentally just a little above the 19.6 million premises or so that can now access a superfast broadband connection through fibre and cable services (dominated by BT and Virgin Media).

Point Topics report said:

“FTTx has grown much more rapidly than FTTH in the quarter. Countries posting the highest growth are Belarus, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey. In particular, the United Kingdom has contributed significantly to FTTx net additions, as the incumbent BT continues the national roll-out of its VDSL [FTTC] network.”

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