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Data: Fibre over 66% of fixed broadband subs

July 18, 2023

As of Q1 2023, global fixed broadband connections reached 1.377 billion, reflecting a growth rate of 1.59 per cent compared to Q4 2022, according to broadband data specialist Point Topic, who also recorded a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in 18 countries, which mainly include emerging markets, as well as some saturated markets such as Singapore. However, while there were fluctuations in growth rates across regions and markets, the overall trend indicates a steady expansion of global broadband connectivity.

Among global regions, Africa, East Asia and America Other saw the fastest growth in broadband connections (2.9 per cent, 2.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent), not least as a result of healthy increases in broadband subscribers in the vast markets of Egypt, Brazil and China.

The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 66.7 per cent. Broadband connections based on other technologies saw their market shares shrink further, with the exception of satellite and wireless (mainly FWA).

VDSL subscriber numbers grew in ten countries, while they dropped in at least 22 markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.

The highest FTTH/B broadband subscriber growth rates in Q1 2023 were in Algeria, Peru and UK.

Global fixed broadband subscribers have been growing steadily over the past several quarters. During Q1 2023, their number increased by 1.59 per cent, reaching 1.377 billion, which suggests a sustained demand for broadband connectivity worldwide. At 21.6 million, the quarterly net adds were close to the figure Point Topic recorded in 2022, though the growth rate (1.59 per cent) was slower, compared to 1.77 per cent in Q1 2022, with global inflation and economic instability having an impact.

East Asia continued to dominate in Q1 2023, maintaining its position as the largest market with a 49.6 per cent share of global fixed broadband subscribers. This substantial market share is primarily driven by China with its vast population.

In Q1 2023, broadband subscriber base grew faster in China, Hong Kong and Korea, compared to Q4 2022. As a result, the region’s net adds share globally went up from 63.2 per cent to 68.8 per cent. Asia Other accounted for 10.8 per cent of the global broadband market, similarly to the previous quarter, though the region’s net adds share went down from 12.8 per cent to 9.4 per cent.

Europe’s market shares remained rather consistent, though Eastern Europe saw their net adds share decline from 3.4 per cent to 0.5 per cent, as a result of slower growth in almost all markets and the decline in broadband subscribers in Russia having an especially significant impact due to its market size.

Similarly, Americas maintained relatively stable market shares of 10.3 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively, while America – Other’s net adds share increased from 7.8 per cent to 9 per cent, driven by higher growth in such sizeable markets as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, to name a few.

In terms of fixed broadband penetration among population, comparing it to growth rates across the regions, Africa and Asia Other continue to have relatively low fixed broadband penetration rates among their populations. In Q1 2023, this metric in Africa stood at 4.6 per cent, while Asia Other reached 5.6 per cent. These figures indicate the potential for future expansion in these regions. Not surprisingly, Africa also recorded the highest quarterly growth rate of 2.9 per cent.

The markets of East Asia and America Other followed closely with growth rates of 2.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively, despite East Asia already having the highest population penetration at 41.9 per cent. This reflects a widespread adoption of fixed broadband services in East Asia, while America Other showcases steady growth in a region with significant potential, where broadband penetration is among the lowest, at 17.2 per cent.

Eastern Europe displayed a modest growth rate of 0.2 per cent with a population penetration of 24.8 per cent. Some markets in this region still have a lot of headspace when it comes to broadband adoption, but the growth was sluggish, likely reflecting economic pressures. Other European regions showed a slightly higher growth rate, with Europe Other at 0.5 per cent, coupled with the second highest population penetration of 39.4 per cent. These figures indicate a mature market with limited growth opportunities.

Oceania saw a negative growth rate of -0.3 per cent while the population penetration there stood at 32.2 per cent. The negative growth this quarter was caused by fast decline in copper and some churn in cable broadband connections, while new fibre connections did not fully compensate for this drop.

The latest data reveal diverse trends in fixed broadband subscriber growth across regions. Africa and Asia Other exhibit potential for expansion with their low penetration rates and high quarterly growth rates. East Asia demonstrates strong adoption of fixed broadband services despite already high population penetration, while the developed European markets face limited growth opportunities due to their mature nature.

Country and technology trends

Among the largest twenty broadband markets all but one saw fixed broadband subscribers grow in Q1 2023, although in ten of them the growth was slower than in the Q4 2022. There was a slight drop in broadband subscribers in Russia which is under international sanctions.

The less saturated broadband markets of India, Egypt, Brazil and Mexico recorded the highest quarterly growth rates in Q1 2023, all higher than 2 per cent. China recorded an above 2 per cent growth as well. At the other end of the spectrum, the mature markets of Germany, France, Japan, UK, and Italy saw modest growth rates at below 0.5 per cent. At the same time, Italy was among the countries that saw one of the largest improvements in growth rates, from -0.44 per cent in Q4 2022 to 0.04 per cent in Q1 2023, as its GDP growth also went from negative to positive in that period. Mexico, China and Brazil recorded the largest improvements in their growth rates, at +1.14. per cent, +0.52 per cent and +0.41 per cent, respectively.

Technology trends

Between Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, the share of FTTH/B connections in the total fixed broadband subscriptions went up by 0.7 per cent and stood at 66.7 per cent. Broadband connections based on other technologies saw their market shares shrink further, with the exception of satellite and wireless (mainly FWA), which remained stable.

FTTx (mainly VDSL) share stood at 6.7 per cent. VDSL subscriber numbers grew in ten countries (including modest quarterly increase in the large VDSL markets of Turkey, Czech Republic, Greece and Germany, for example), while they fell in 22 other markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.

As fibre broadband continues to establish its dominance, Point Topic examined the growth of FTTH/B in markets with at least 0.5 million fibre broadband connections. In Q1 2023, Algeria led the list with a 32.1 per cent growth rate. Peru followed with 14.3 per cent, while the United Kingdom also showcased considerable growth of 11.6 per cent, as the country benefitted from a rapid rollout of fibre networks by multiple operators.

According to Point Topic, it remains to be seen whether consumers will continue to gravitate toward fibre broadband offerings, particularly as global economies face potential slowdown and inflationary pressures.

In terms of FTTH/B broadband net additions in Q1 2023, China continued to maintain a significant lead with 13.5 million while Brazil added 1.4 million. Mexico is back in the top ten league, having pushed out Argentina this quarter.

Between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023, the global landscape of broadband technologies witnessed significant shifts. The number of copper lines experienced further decline of 9.6 per cent, while FTTH/B connections saw growth of 11.2 per cent, as consumers continued to show preference for more advanced options and transition away from older and slower technologies. Cable broadband exhibited modest growth at 0.5 per cent, maintaining relevance in certain markets.

Satellite broadband also saw a modest growth of 1.3 per cent while wireless broadband demonstrated continued relevance with a respectable growth rate of 4.9 per cent. These trends can be attributed to the demand for connectivity in remote or underserved areas where traditional broadband infrastructure is not feasible.

The diverse growth rates among different broadband technologies highlight the dynamic nature of the industry as consumers seek more reliable and high-speed connections. The significant increase in FTTH/B connections and the growth of satellite and wireless broadband underline the ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide and ensure connectivity for all.

Top broadband countries

The top ten countries by fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged. As of Q1 2023, China exceeded 0.6 billion fixed broadband subscribers, having added 14.6 million in the quarter. Also, the country is approaching 1.2 billion 5G subscribers, with the service now being used by 84 per cent of the population.

Overall, the latest fixed broadband subscriber data reveal a clear trend towards advanced, high-speed broadband solutions such as FTTH/B, while older technologies such as copper-based broadband (ADSL and VDSL) are experiencing a decline, suggesting that the broadband landscape is continuously evolving to meet the growing demand for faster and more reliable connectivity, concludes Point Topic.

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