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ITU Ranks UK 7th Globally for Fixed Broadband Subscriptions by Speed

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 (8:27 am) - Score 2,722

The International Telecommunication Union has released its annual Information and Communications Technology (ICT) figures for 2014, which ranks the United Kingdom 7th for fixed broadband subscriptions by service speed. But it also appears to exclude a few big countries (e.g. Australia) and curiously lists France as 2nd from the top while Sweden and Japan’s national FTTH networks seem underrated.

The new figures also predict that there will be almost 3 Billion Internet users by the end of this year, which equates to around 40% of the world’s population (78% in developed countries [3.3% growth rate] and 32% in developing countries [8.7% growth rate]).

The number of Mobile Broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 Billion globally by the end of this year, although take note that the ITU views this as separate from the almost 7 Billion Mobile (cellular) subscriptions that it expects to reach over the same period (mobile growth is now 2.6% globally and deemed to be approaching saturation).

Meanwhile fixed telephone line penetration has continued its five year decline and will have lost 100 million subscriptions by the end of 2014 (i.e. since 2009), which isn’t surprising given the popularity of mobile phones for making calls and the ever rising cost of line rental in countries like the UK.

But fixed-broadband penetration continues to grow, albeit slowly (4.4% globally in 2014) and this is “mostly due to a slowdown in developing countries, where fixed-broadband penetration growth rates are expected to drop from 18% in 2011 to 6% in 2014“. In developed countries, fixed-broadband penetration will grow at around 3.5% in 2014 compared with 4.8% in 2011.

It’s worth pointing out that Europe’s fixed-broadband penetration is much higher compared with other regions and almost three times as high as the global average (28% compared with 10%). Unsurprisingly Europe’s Internet penetration will be reaching 75% (or three out of four people) by end 2014.

In terms of the fixed line broadband speeds table, it’s important to note that this reflects “fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by speed” and is thus not a simple table base on average performance. It also groups speeds into different brackets, with the RED bars reflecting subscriptions on 10Mbps+ lines. As usual this also appears to be based off advertised speed rather than real-world performance.

itu_fixed_broadband_speeds_vs_subscriptions_penetration_2014

All of the above results should ideally be taken within the context of the United Nations (UN) global digital development targets for internet access, which currently runs until 2015 but a new policy for 2020 is already being debated (here).

United Nations Digital Broadband Development Targets (2015)

1. Making broadband policy universal.

* By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.

2. Making broadband affordable.

* By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (for example, amount to less than 5% of average monthly income).

3. Connecting homes to broadband.

* By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.

4. Getting people online.

* By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The ITU’s full report can be read here.

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