Report: 40 million new broadband subscribers in 2013; copper-based infrastructure still dominant

While DSL remains the predominant technology, fiber continues to outpace all access types in new deployments, states new research by the Broadband Forum.

Year-end figures for broadband and IPTV adoption show a steady growth in broadband subscribers but slowing as older markets reach saturation. The figures, published by the Broadband Forum and prepared by market research firm Point Topic, highlight the addition of over 40 million new users, an annual increase of 6.15%, bringing the total number of broadband lines up to 678.5 million worldwide.

The figures show that copper-based broadband technologies (DSL, ADSL, and ADSL2+) continue to be dominant, although fiber-optic broadband technologies (which include VDSL and VDSL2, according to the Broadband Forum) are taking a firmer grip with growth rates of 17.6% overall. Although DSL remains the predominant technology, fiber continues to outpace all access types in new deployments, according to the analysts.

“These figures for 2013 give an extremely interesting picture both regionally and in terms of the changes in technology choices as some markets reach saturation and others start their digital journey," comments Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum. "They are a great illustration of the ‘second age of broadband access,’ with existing customers demanding more bandwidth and operators introducing new technologies."

According to the report, China (including all territories) remains at the top of the league table with over 192 million subscribers at the end of the year, having added over 3 million new subscribers in Q4 alone. There were no changes in the table of Top 10 Countries during the year, and just one change in positions as the Russian Federation passed France to take up fifth place. Both Russia and Brazil are likely to continue to move up the standings and Mexico is likely to displace India during the first half of 2014, the organization says.

Point Topic also reports high percentage growth rates in a number of emerging markets, significantly in the Middle East and North Africa, with over 10% growth in Oman, 9% in Gabon, and over 6% in Morocco and Algeria. Uruguay also showed more than 6% growth.

Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic, said, “There are signs that fiber infrastructure in Africa will start to make an impact going forward. The relatively low deployment rate of DSL means any further growth can be based on optical technologies. Fixed wireless will also make up an increasing proportion of Africa’s subscribers in the coming quarters. With acceptable bandwidths and much lower deployment costs, the technologies that make up this sector are well placed to gain market share.”

The analysts also measured IPTV subscriptions, which are nearing the 100 million threshold with 17 million new subscribers taking the total to 96 million at year-end 2013 – representing a growth rate of 21% in 2013. At the year’s end, 14.1% of fixed broadband subscribers also subscribed to an IPTV service, making this an important driver of continuing growth in the demand for high-speed broadband. Regionally, the best performance was seen in Asian markets and Eastern Europe, driven by a significant surge in demand in Russia.

Source: Lightwave

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