A Billion Fixed Broadband Connections

A Billion Fixed Broadband Connections

It’s been estimated that the world’s one billionth fixed broadband subscriber was connected last month – again drawing attention to how fast the internet has been adopted globally in a comparatively short space of time.

fixed broadband subscribers Image: Point Topic

While the internet we’re familiar with can be traced back to the 1960’s, it’s really only been in the couple of decades that it has taken off and changed the world in many ways.

A recent report from Point Topic put the number of fixed broadband subscribers globally at the end of Q2 2018 at 983,456,509 – growth of 2.53% over the previous quarter and the highest in the last six quarters. Given recent adoption rates, the company estimates the one billion mark was exceeded last month; and that subscriber would most likely have been located in China.

More than 70 per cent of all net additions for the Q2 period (24,295,758 – nearly equivalent to the population of Australia) came from East Asia.

Point Topic states growth was slower in Australia, at 1.32%; but fixed broadband has a population penetration of 33.58%.

Fixed broadband incorporates a number of technologies, e.g. DSL, fibre and wireless, used to deliver high speed connectivity to a fixed location. The report notes the biggest growth in subscribers globally by technology was FTTH (Fibre To The Home), which jumped 23.8% between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018.

Interestingly, fixed wireless internet saw a downturn of -3.6% globally.

According to the most recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this drop wasn’t reflected in Australia. Last month we reported on ABS figures that indicated fixed wireless broadband connections grew from 138,000 in June 2017 to 217,000 in June this year (+57%).

Another technology to see a more substantial drop globally according to Point Topic was copper-based connectivity, which decreased by 7.6%.

The Next Billion

“Fixed internet access continues to exceed expectations with growth tracking ahead of most models. Driven by China and other Asian markets the second age of internet expansion is nevertheless showing the effects of market saturation,” said Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson. “The next phase will seek to provide adequate access to those in the places hardest to reach.”

It’s some of these hard to reach places where fixed wireless internet can play an important role. As it is an “over the air” delivery, there are fewer logistical issues in terms of installation and it can be much cheaper to roll out than wired connections. All eyes are now on new generation technology – 5G fixed wireless – which can offer performance equivalent or even superior to Fibre To The Node (FTTN) or Fibre To The Curb (FTTC) technologies.

More from Point Topic’s fixed broadband report can be viewed here.

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