Broadband Forum hails ‘Banner Year’

Global IPTV subscription had a record 34.6 per cent growth in 2010 according to figures prepared by Point Topic for the Broadband Forum. 2010 was also a landmark year for broadband subscriptions – following the milestone half billion lines achieved in July 2010, subscriber figures continued to climb steadily and ended the year at 523,066,022 – a net addition of over 55 million lines during the year.

The final quarter of 2010 followed a similar pattern to the rest of the year in terms of percentage growth in broadband subscribers, reflecting a steady and sustained increase, which was broadly in line with the previous two years. Asia is set to overtake Europe during 2011 with China still dominating the rankings both for total subscribers and net additions, as well as in percentage growth terms.

Meanwhile, by the end of 2010 the total number of IPTV subscribers had reached almost 45.4 million, representing over 11.5 million new subscribers over the year and an annual increase of 34.6 per cent. The fourth quarter was the strongest quarter for IPTV growth, adding more than 3.4 million new subscribers and accounting for 8 per cent of the total growth.

Laurie Adams Gonzalez, Marketing Director of the Broadband Forum described2010 as “a banner year for IPTV and broadband,” noting that with great success come real world logistical problems. “In particular, the surge of new devices coming online will soon exhaust the IPv4 address pool. To address this looming problem, the Broadband Forum focused our resources to ensure specifications were in place for a smooth integration of the new Internet protocol, IPv6 into network and device management around the world,” she advised.

In terms of regional growth, Europe held on to its number one regional spot, but the growth rate was lower in comparison to other markets, mostly due to maturing IPTV territories such as France and Belgium. Asia showed strong growth with over 50 per cent for the year and is the one to watch to overtake Europe in 2011 as largest IPTV subscriber base. And although the region started with a low overall number of subscribers, the Middle East and Africa (MEA), had the strongest percentage growth – at 63.5 per cent.

Six of the top 10 IPTV countries are in Europe, with France remaining the leading IPTV nation, passing the 10 million mark for the first time. China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) also passed 10 million, and is closing the gap on France. It will almost certainly overtake France in Q1 or Q2 2011.

2010 saw a steady rise in the number of new broadband subscribers, with 56 million subscribers added, accounting for 12 per cent annual growth. Asia is moving to become the largest broadband region in the world and is likely to overtake Europe during 2011 in terms of total broadband subscribers. The Americas and the Middle East & Africa are still showing plenty of activity, but Europe and Asia show faster broadband adoption.

According to the Broadband Forum, Asia is made up of a mixture of rapidly growing as well as relatively saturated mature markets and a large and increasingly affluent population. This means growth from new subscribers as well as a number of users trading up to higher speed broadband options as their broadband usage increases and local availability allows.

China continues to dominate the rankings both for total subscribers and net additions as well as the most rapidly growing, in percentage terms, market in the top 10 over the last 12 months. “The Chinese broadband juggernaut continues to overshadow other markets. Growth is accelerating and this quarter is a significant improvement on the same period in 2008 and 2009,” observed Oliver Johnson, chief analyst Point Topic.

While China dominates, there continues to be plenty of growth in other parts of the market. The US, Japan and the UK all fared better in 2010 than they did in 2008 and 2009. Germany is doing reasonably well too, however there are indications of a slowing in other areas, such as France, Russia and Italy due to these being well established markets.

Meanwhile India continues its progress towards the Top 10, and is forecast to overtake Spain in the next quarter in terms of total fixed broadband subscribers, with the possibility it will be in the top 10 by the end of the year.

DSL continued to be the global access leader supporting 331 million subscribers. Cable’s market share is eroding and now sits at 106 million, while fiber is growing fast and is now serving 72 million customers.  Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and alternative Internet access technologies continue to add market share as markets start to infill some areas where for various reasons it is difficult to deploy traditional fixed line access.

DSL and fibre both dominate the Asian markets while cable is most popular in the Americas. With the US now seeing some results from its government commitment to broadband may lead to a pick-up in fibre growth. DSL however is likely to become more and more dominant globally due to additions in Asia as the addressable market keeps growing.

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