Global broadband penetration passes one-third of all homes

More than one-third of the world’s households will have a fixed broadband connection by the end of this year, according to US firm ABI Research, which is forecasting there will be 618.7mn subscribers to fixed broadband services by the end of 2012, up 7.3% from one year previously.

The growth is expected to come from all the fixed broadband platforms: DSL, cable, and fibre-optic broadband. DSL broadband subscriptions grew 1.2% on a sequential basis in the second quarter of this year (adding 4.3mn subscribers), compared to sequential growth of 1.5% for the first quarter, and suggesting that DSL subscribers are shifting to other alternative platforms such as fibre, according to ABI Research.

“Development of next-generation broadband networks is creating opportunities to upgrade customers to fibre optic,” said Jake Saunders, Vice President and practice director of core forecasting. “Fibre optic broadband’s market-share is expected to increase to 13.2% by end-2012 from 12% in 2011, while DSL market-share will decline nearly 1% point from 64% in 2011.”

North America is believed to have the highest fixed broadband penetration around the world, with 72.4% of households using broadband services, although Western Europe had nearly caught up by the end of June, adding 1.2mn subscribers in the preceding three months, resulting in a penetration rate of 72%.

The subscriber base of key broadband operators in Western Europe – such as British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, and Iliad Telecom – increased more than 1% from the first quarter, while the majority of North American operators grew their subscriber count by about 0.8% from the first quarter (except for Cox Communications, which grew approximately 3%).

Increasing penetration of connected devices, applications, and services over broadband access is described by the research firm as continuing to drive the adoption of high-speed broadband services.

“As broadband operators upgrade their networks, customers are snapping up the faster services,” notes Khin Sandi Lynn, research analyst. “At the end of 2Q-2012, more than 44% of total customers subscribe to a broadband service of 10 Mbps and above.”

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