According to research by Informa Telecoms & Media, global fixed broadband subscriptions stood at 422 million at the end of 2008, adding nearly 68 million subscriptions in the year and 16 million in the final quarter.
The biggest access technology remains DSL (65 per cent of the total), but FTTH (11 per cent) registered its biggest in year gain to date, adding over 11 million subscriptions – almost exactly the same number as cable broadband (21 per cent) – now stands over 48 million. The growth of FTTH is part explained by robust growth in Asia-Pacific: the region added 20 per cent more subscriptions in 2008 than in 2007. In addition, nine of the world’s 10 largest FTTH operators are in the region.
Western Europe has seen broadband growth stagnate, as all but five of its 30 countries now exceed a household penetration level of 50 per cent and 20 countries enjoy penetration of over 60 per cent.
China, where broadband subscriptions grew by 21 per cent over 2008 to reach 82 million subscriptions, passed the USA mid-year to become the world’s largest fixed broadband market, though it still has a household penetration level of below 20 per cent.
The IPTV total stood at 19.96 million at the end of 2008. Even by the standard of its own past record, growth was steady but not spectacular, registering net additions of 7.5 million. What is significant is the fact that of the four main multi-channel TV platforms, IPTV and digital terrestrial (DTT) are increasing their share of the market and now hold 10 per cent and 3 per cent of the global market, respectively.
Julian Herbert, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media said, “It is a fair observation that IPTV has not made the sort of inroads into broadband homes which operators might have expected, but it is wrong to declare that the concept is doomed to fail. In markets where the bandwidth is available and the marketing and pricing are attractive, IPTV is attracting big volumes of new customers and helping operators to improve retention rates and increase fixed line ARPU. Look at operators like AT&T – over 800,000 net adds in 2008 – or Free and France Telecom in France, PWCC in Hong Kong or Portugal Telecom: all are growing their market shares strongly in competitive TV markets”.