New research suggests that 16m new broadband subscribers were added in Q1, bringing the global total to over 600m. Guy Daniels reports.
On the eve of the annual CommunicAsia show in Singapore, the Broadband Forum has released data prepared by Point Topic that shows a global installed broadband user base of over 600 million. 16 million new subscribers were added during the first quarter of 2012 (up 2.7 per cent on the previous quarter), as well as 100 million new lines.
Asia was again the biggest overall region with 262 million subscribers in total, having added 8.6 million new lines at a growth rate of 3.4 per cent in the quarter. However, the research shows few changes in the top country rankings. China leads the rankings with 164 million subscribers and 4.4 per cent quarterly growth. The US comes second with 93 million and a 1.8 per cent growth rate. The Top 10 is continues (in order) with Japan, Germany, France, Russia, UK, South Korea, Brazil and Italy.
China also accounts for the highest number of new subscribers with annual growth of 26 million. The highest annual growth rates are Russia with 27.4 per cent and Ukraine with 26.8 per cent. China, India and Brazil also posted double-digit annual increases. Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum, said the growth shows no sign of slowing down:
“It is just 18 months since we celebrated the 500 million subscriber watershed and even less time since IPTV subscribers reached 50 million - yet in both cases growth is still accelerating.
I am also particularly pleased to see how exceptionally well fibre is doing, a clear indication of the importance of our continued efforts in testing and certification of G-PON.”
IPTV subscribers grew by 3.8 million in Q1 to a global figure of 66 million, with China increasing its lead in both numbers and growth rates. It added over three times as many IPTV subscribers in the quarter as any other country. The research suggests this gap is likely to increase even further, though both France and the US are reporting strong numbers. However, Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic, says that DSL is still the most popular access technology:
“Although its market share has dropped by 0.5 per cent in the quarter, there is a long way to go before the copper-based access technology is overtaken. For fibre, the cost-effectiveness, from the operators point of view, and the significant increase in bandwidth over DSL in particular is hitting the sweet spot at the moment in terms of technology market share.”
Mersh adds that this growth underlines the need for robust standards and the importance of interoperability:
“Our new TR-069 testing program joining the G-PON Certification Program are just two of the many preparatory steps we are taking to enable new M2M, Cloud and Connected Home applications, amongst others. We are engineering smarter ways to manage smart access technologies and applications.”
Meanwhile, the ITU-backed Broadband Commission for Digital Development has issued a ‘call for action’ to delegates at Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. It wants countries to recognise ICT and broadband connectivity as catalysts to achieve what it says are the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. In a joint statement, the Broadband Commissioners said:
“We believe broadband is a fundamental technology to achieve sustainable development that should also be recognised in future Sustainable Development Goals.”
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