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Quarterly Full Fibre Growth in the UK Falls Back in Q2 2021

Thursday, October 28th, 2021 (10:17 am) - Score 744
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The latest research from Point Topic has found that world fixed broadband subscribers grew by 1.7% (20.66 million) in Q2 2021 to total 1.222 billion, but it also found that the quarterly growth rate of “full fibre” (FTTP/H/B) networks in the UK had fallen sharply to 14.8% in Q2 2021 after previously seeing consecutive increases.

As before, the study examined the highest full fibre growth rates in the largest fibre markets with at least 0.5 million fibre broadband connections. At the country level, the highest direct fibre growth rates in Q2 2021 were mainly in the developing markets, with the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany also reporting significant growth (Summary of UK Full Fibre Build Progress).

However, back in Q4 2020, the same study reported that quarterly fibre growth in the UK had risen to 28.6% (here), and then it jumped again to a whopping 37.2% in Q1 2021, before suddenly collapsing back to 14.8% in Q2 2021 – removing the United Kingdom from the top spot of the growth chart.

We have yet to see this change being similarly reflected via other sources, particularly as most operators are still in the ramping-up phase of their fibre builds (i.e. the rate of build is only getting faster). However, Q2 and Q3 2021 did see some disruption from shortages and delays in the supply chain as the UK economy rapidly returned to “post-COVID” life (even though we’re still very much in a pandemic), which might be partly to blame.

Top markets by fibre growth rates in Q2 2021
(countries with at least 0.5m fibre broadband subscribers)

Country FTTH/B/P Growth – Q2 2021
India 22.2%
Pakistan 16.4%
United Kingdom 14.8%
Chile 14.6%
Italy 10.8%
Malaysia 9.5%
France 8.5%
Thailand 8.0%
Philippines 7.9%
United Arab Emirates 7.2%
Poland 5.9%
Brazil 5.9%
Germany 5.9%
Colombia 5.4%
Netherlands 5.3%

Otherwise, China continues to show some of the most significant growth in fixed broadband connections. The country has now surpassed 0.5 billion fixed broadband connections and is approaching the same milestone in terms of 5G mobile connections. China alone added 12.33 million net additions to the global fixed broadband base in Q2 2021, while the next closest country of Brazil only added 1.09 million net adds.

As a result, East Asia’s share of net additions of fixed broadband subscribers, which is dominated by China’s impact, increased slightly to 62.80% (this falls to 16.34% when looking at other parts of Asia). By comparison the whole of Europe (inc. UK) accounts for just 6.14% of net adds, while North America holds 5.65%, South America is on 7.18% and Africa hit 1.69%.

As for the global split between different broadband technologies. Between Q1 2021 and Q2 2021, the share of FTTP/H connections in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to grow – it went up by 0.8% and stood at an impressive 57.3%. Cable broadband connections followed with a share of 18.2% (down by 0.2%), then copper-based / ADSL (11.6%) and hybrid fibre FTTx connections (12.9%).

In terms of annual changes, between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021, the number of copper lines globally fell by 11.1%, while full fibre connections increased by 13.7% as it continued to cannibalise the copper loss. Wireless (mostly FWA) connections also saw a significant growth as these technologies are increasingly used to cover remote broadband areas, particularly in other parts of the world.

point_topic_broadband_technology_growth_q2_2021

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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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