World Fixed Broadband Statistics – Q2 2018

Point Topic has published Q2 2018 broadband subscriber figures

At the end of Q2 2018, the quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers was 2.5 per cent. The global number of fixed broadband connections stood at 983m.

Summary of key findings

At the end of Q2 2018, the quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers saw a boost compared to the previous quarter and stood at 2.5 per cent.

The main trends in Q2 2018:

  • The growth was highest in the last six quarters, mostly due to the trends in East Asia which provided 70 per cent of all net additions in fixed broadband subscribers.
  • Overall, the less developed regions and countries with less saturated broadband markets continued to see higher growth in broadband subscriptions. The more developed and more saturated markets with lower growth focused on improving broadband offerings such as gigabit capable broadband.
  • ADSL connections continued to decline, having dropped by 8 per cent in the last year, while FTTH/B/C connections increased by 30 per cent in the same period. Cable based subscriptions also went up by 5 per cent.
  • Around 80% of global fixed broadband subscriptions were fibre (FTTH/B/C) and cable based.
  • China continued to be at the forefront of fibre adoption. In 12 months to the end of Q2 2018, China saw FTTH connections grow by 26%. This figure constituted 80% of global FTTH net adds in the period.
  • Elsewhere South Africa, Brazil, UK and France among others recorded significant FTTH quarterly growth rates. Italy, New Zealand and Greece were among the top VDSL growth markets.

Global and regional trends

Figure 1. World broadband subscriber numbers and growth. Source – Point Topic.

In Q2 2018, the number of global fixed broadband subscribers grew by 2.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter. The growth was highest in the last six quarters, mostly due to the trends in East Asia which includes China (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 2. Global broadband subscribers and quarterly growth. Source – Point Topic.

More than 70 per cent of all net additions in fixed broadband subscribers came from East Asia (Figure 3), which also maintained the largest regional market share of all subscribers at 46 per cent (Figure 4). This dropped slightly from 47 per cent in Q1 2018. Western Europe saw its market share go up from 15 per cent in Q1 2018 to 17 per cent in Q2 2018, while North America’s market share fell from 13.1 per cent to 12.6 per cent in respective periods.

Figure 3. Share of net adds in fixed broadband subscribers by region, Q2 2018. Source – Point Topic.

Figure 4. Share of fixed broadband subscribers by region, Q2 2018. Source – Point Topic

In Q2 2018, the quarterly growth rate in East Asia increased to 4 per cent, compared to 3.1 per cent recorded in Q1 2018 (Figure 5). China, which grew by 4.6 per cent, was mostly to blame. The rest of the world saw slower quarterly growth than in Q1 2018, except for Africa where the quarterly growth rate increased from 4.7 per cent in Q1 2018 to 5.7 per cent in Q2 2018. However, this region has the second lowest market share of all fixed broadband subscribers at 1.6 per cent and the lowest fixed broadband penetration at 3 per cent. With an exception of East Asia, as could be expected the growth tends to be lower where broadband penetration is higher, with less room for growth and tougher competition.

Figure 5. Penetration and quarterly growth by region (size of bubble represents subscriber volume in Q2 2018). Source – Point Topic.

In Q2 2018, fixed broadband subscribers in the rest of Asia went up by 2.8 per cent, with strong growth in Nepal (11.2 per cent), Indonesia (9.3 per cent) and Vietnam (6.7 per cent), among others. Growth in other regions and countries was much more moderate (Figure 6).


Figure 6. Fixed broadband: quarterly growth versus population penetration in Q2 2018. Source: Point Topic. To access these interactive maps, click here

As noted before, the trend of lower growth in higher penetration areas holds, with most of the well-developed countries experiencing a slowdown in this respect. Not surprisingly, they tend to be the hotbed for deployment of higher bandwidth broadband services, including those capable of gigabit speeds (Figure 7). In more saturated broadband markets, the operators are upgrading their networks to support gigabit broadband as they are preparing to meet the requirements of new technologies such as IoT and the needs of more demanding consumers, fighting the trend of ‘cutting the cord’. The latter threat will become even more prominent with 5G mobile broadband services and Gigabit LTE entering the market.

Figure 7. Gigabit broadband rollouts around the world in 2017-2018. Source – Point Topic. Access the interactive map here

Technology trends

Between Q2 2018 and Q1 2018, the share of fibre connections in total fixed broadband subscribers continued to grow in all regions, while the share of cable-based subscriptions dropped slightly in Oceania, Africa and Europe as subscribers are migrating from legacy cable networks to FTTH and VDSL platforms. The share of copper-based subscriptions (ADSL) continued to deteriorate in all regions.

Direct fibre connections continue to grow at high rates. In Q2 2018, 82 per cent of global FTTH net additions came from China which reported a 6 per cent quarterly growth in FTTH connections (26 per cent growth in 12 months to the end of Q2 2018).  Elsewhere South Africa, Brazil, UK and France among others saw significant FTTH quarterly growth rates – 19%, 14%, 10% and 9% respectively. Meanwhile, Italy, New Zealand and Greece were among the top VDSL growth markets with quarterly growth of 15%, 9% and 9% respectively.

Figure 8. Technology market share by region, Q2 2018. Source – Point Topic.

In terms of annual changes, between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018 the number of copper lines globally fell by 8 per cent, while FTTH connections increased by 24 per cent and FTTx by 6 per cent (Figure 9). The trend of subscribers dropping copper in favour of fibre, whether it’s FTTH/B or VDSL, continues.

Figure 9. Annual growth in subscriber numbers by technology (%). Source – Point Topic.

Top broadband countries

The top ten countries by the total fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged since Q2 2016 (Figure 10). China passed a third of a billion of fixed broadband subscribers a while ago and continues to record the largest broadband net adds globally (Figure 11).

Figure 10. Country ranking by broadband subscribers in Q2 2018.  Source – Point Topic.

Figure 11. Country ranking by broadband net additions in Q2 2018. Source – Point Topic.

Get access to the full report and data used in it

The data used in this report is taken from Point Topic’s Global Broadband Statistics service that allows customers to analyse the datasets covering fixed broadband subscribers in more than 120 countries at country, operator and technology level. The data is also available as part of our Double Play and Triple Play service. Please telephone +44 (0)20 3301 3303 or e-mail simona@point-topic.com for more details.

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