Broadband sees strongest growth since 2009

Latest broadband and IPTV figures published by the Broadband Forum show a significant surge in growth in Q3-2011, with more new subscribers added in the quarter than at any time since early 2009. The figures also point to the growing importance of fibre as FTTH and hybrid FTTx deployments increase.

Overall broadband growth during the quarter is estimated at 17.4 million lines, bringing the global total to 581.3 million, a quarterly increase of 3.08 per cent – and an annual growth rate of 12.89 per cent.

“These are very healthy figures for Q3 and they demonstrate the ongoing strength of the broadband market,” commented Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum. “We are especially pleased to see the trend in fibre technologies beginning to take off.  Our G-PON certification programme, launched in Q3 and with first certifications already in place, has been very widely welcomed and this is an indication that the market is ready for much further growth in this area.”

The figures show that FTTx is now gaining ground on more traditional technologies. DSL continues to be the most dominant technology, adding more lines than any other in Q3. However, in percentage terms both FTTH and FTTx/hybrid technologies, showed the largest growth with over 8 per cent overall, compared to 2.2 per cent for cable modems and 2 per cent for DSL. FTTx added just under 19 million lines in Q3 2011 – this is more than double the number in the same period last year and it continues to accelerate.  This means that market share for fibre technologies – now at 16 per cent – is fast catching up with cable’s 19.5 per cent.

Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic said: “Hybrid FTTx will be where the action is over the next few years.  Consumers are showing signs of being ready to pay for faster connections and the hybrid solution set is a cost effective way of getting relatively high speeds to them.”

With a rise of almost 1.5 per cent in the year, the proportion of broadband subscribers in Asia continues to increase. Results from other regions were more muted, although both Europe and the Middle East & Africa returned better numbers compared to the same period in 2011.  The Americas also performed better in Q3 than Q2, with overall net additions in subscriber lines rising by 309,518.

Asia continues to dominate with over 10.3 million more subscriber lines added in the quarter, higher than in Q2 and the same quarter in 2010. With over 246 million lines in total, Asia now has 42.34 per cent of the total market share in broadband.

Of the top ten countries, strongest growth continues to be in China, although strong growth in Russia has seen it improve its ranking to seventh place, fuelled partly by increases in IPTV adoption which has brought Russia into the IPTV top ten rankings for the first time.

IPTV subscribers grew by 6.06 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 and now total 54.4 million globally. IPTV continues to grow steadily, generating significant additional revenues as service providers work hard to make IPTV an integral part of their product package.

Asia, once again, is the fastest growing region for IPTV but European markets are strengthening on an individual basis and while some saturation is taking place there is fundamental strength in the market which has driven the region to a three year high in quarterly net additions.

The Top 10 countries for IPTV all reported strong growth. Russia is the major success story, entering the Top Ten for the first time and immediately occupying eighth place. Growth in France, the current world leader, is still very strong, in spite of the already high penetration rate, but China will soon take over the top spot, by sheer force of market size.

With the strong push for more fibre deployments, the Broadband Forum’s testing and certification programme for G-PON was a critical and timely announcement for the industry in 2011 and this work continues in 2012 as more vendors seek to achieve certification for their fibre products. At the same time the Broadband Forum will continue to expand this programme to cover additional ONU modules and address XG-PON1.

The organisation is also planning to build on its IPv6 work and MPLS in Mobile Backhaul (MMBI) initiative ensuring a smooth transition to LTE/4G. In 2012, it will publish important work defining the industry specifications for multi-service architecture and continue work on a TR-069 CWMP Conformance programme, as well as launching new work in support of business services and machine-to-machine requirements.

Robin Mersh emphasised the importance of standards and certification programmes: “Standards provide the foundation on which vendors and service providers can build their roadmap for development and deployment of products and services. Our task at the Broadband Forum is to provide the specifications and tools to ensure that global service providers and vendors can achieve standards based deployments.  Doing so leads to interoperability and drives down the costs of deployment, encouraging innovation and faster rollouts of new services. One of our key new programmes, Broadband Forum Certification, gives service providers world-wide the full confidence in the quality and competitiveness of their vendor equipment selection. We have made major steps forward with our MMBI and new G-PON Certifications and we intend to continue this work and introduce further programmes in 2012.”

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