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Copper Declines as Fibre Boosts Global Broadband Users to 738 Million

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 (8:10 am) - Score 1,359
router with fibre optic cables on top

The latest statistics from Point Topic reveal that the total number of world fixed broadband subscriptions reached approximately 738 million in Q3 2015, with the vast majority of growth being driven by fibre optic (FTTH/C/P) based technologies; albeit mostly in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It’s interesting to note that the quarterly growth in fixed broadband subscribers (1.36%), particularly during much of 2015, has broadly recovered compared to 2014 when there were several consecutive quarters of decline.

A lot of this growth can be attributed to the positive impact from China, which alone is home to over 200 million broadband subscribers. The USA holds 2nd place with just over 100 million and nobody else comes close.

global_fixed_broadband_subscriber_growth_q3_2015
global_fixed_broadband_subscriber_top_10_countries_q3_2015

In terms of connection technology, the only area of decline has been in the dominant form of pure copper based ADSL / ADSL2+ broadband services (these account for well over half of all fixed broadband lines). Related services were very popular up until about 2-3 years ago, when newer and faster fibre optic based connections started to make their mark.

Since then the number of countries deploying ultrafast style pure fibre optic (FTTH/P) and slower hybrid-fibre (FTTC/x) solutions has increased and so too has the related network coverage, which has unsurprisingly resulted in many consumers upgrading their connections to faster fibre-based solutions.

As a result of that we’ve seen a -15% decline in pure copper based DSL broadband connections between Q3 2014 and Q3 2015, meanwhile FTTH/P has surged +57% over the same period and hybrid-fibre (FTTx) jumped +14.4%. Even the growth in Satellite (+10%) has been noticeable, which is perhaps partly due to Europe and the UK choosing it as a quick fix for their basic broadband commitments.

global_fixed_broadband_subscriber_growth_by_technology_2015_q3

If the United Kingdom is any example then the pace of change towards “fibre” services should continue and we may eventually reach a point where older style ADSL/ADSL2+ based solutions can finally be withdrawn, although that’s unlikely to happen for quite a few years.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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