Trends in Global Broadband Subscribers – Q3 2016

Point Topic has published Q3 2016 broadband subscriber figures

At the end of September 2016, the quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers recovered and stood at 2.25 per cent. The global total fixed broadband subscribers stood at 822.7m.

Summary of key findings

The main trends in fixed broadband subscribers this quarter:

  • More than 70 per cent of all net adds in fixed broadband subscribers came from East Asia, mainly driven by continued growth in China.
  • Copper decline is accelerating. The number of copper lines globally fell by 11.6 per cent, while FTTH connections increased by 76.9 per cent between Q3 2015 and Q3 2016.
  • In the six months to the end of September 2016, China added nearly 41 million FTTH connections, which constituted 89 per cent of all FTTH net additions globally over the same period.

Global and regional trends

globa subscriber trends Q4 2016

In Q3 2016, the quarterly growth in global fixed broadband subscribers was 2.25%, having recovered after the dip in Q2 2015 which is a common trend coinciding with the summer season in the Northern hemisphere. The growth rate in Q3 2016 even exceeded slightly the increase recorded Q3 2015 (Figures 1 and 2).

world broadband subscriber quarterly growth figures

While fixed broadband markets are highly saturated in the developed economies where growth rates are stagnating or diminishing, there is still plenty of scope for growth in the rest of the world. In Q3 2016, 70 per cent of all net adds in fixed broadband subscribers came from East Asia (Figure 3). In addition, the growth rate in percentage terms in this region was 1.89 per cent higher than in Q2 2016 and stood at 3.89 per cent (Figure 4).

net adds by region

In percentage terms, North America and Oceania experienced slightly lower growth in Q3 2016 compared to Q2 2016. The growth rates in other regions in Q3 2016 recovered compared to Q2 2016.

 

regional growth and population penetration

In addition to East Asia, Africa once again saw the second highest quarterly growth rate this quarter at 3.61 per cent. This region has very low fixed broadband market saturation where even small nominal changes in the subscriber figures can result in high growth rates given the lower base.

Technology trends

The share of copper based technologies (DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+) in the total subscriber figure continued to fall in all regions except Africa. The fall was especially notable in Americas, where FTTH and FTTx, which includes VDSL, started to gain more ground (Figure 5).

Technology market share by region

In Q3 2016, the FTTH connections in the region constituted 8.02 per cent of all fixed broadband connections, compared to 6.9 per cent in the previous quarter. For FTTx these figures were 11.9 per cent in Q3 2016, up from 10.51 per cent in Q2 2016. The share of cable based subscriptions remained roughly stable in all regions.

In terms of the annual changes, the number of copper lines globally fell by 11.6 per cent, while FTTH connections increased by 76.9 per cent between Q3 2015 and Q3 2016 (Figure 6). These figures are slightly less dramatic compared to the previous quarter but the trend of copper to direct fibre substitution remains prominent. The negative growth in FTTx lines was caused mainly by this technology being replaced with FTTH on a big scale in China. At the same time, fixed wireless technologies are increasingly giving way to 4G LTE based mobile broadband which is offered as one way to get broadband at home in several countries and regions, for example Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

 

growth in subscribers by technology

Globally, from Q3 2015 FTTH is used by more subscribers than cable. With an increasing number of fibre network upgrades to gigabit speeds being announced regularly by operators worldwide, this trend is likely to continue, although some of the cable providers are responding with Docsis 3.1 deployments also capable of gigabit speeds.

Top broadband countries

The top ten countries by the total fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged since Q2 2016 quarter (Figure 7). As before, France faces competition from the Russian Federation and United Kingdom for the fifth position in the rating. China passed a quarter of a billion fixed broadband subscriber milestone in Q1 2016 and continues to grow at impressive speed.

top 10 broadband countries

top 10 broadband countries net adds

China also dominates globally by the number of quarterly net additions in fixed broadband subscribers, mainly driven by FTTH rollout on a massive scale.  In the six months to the end of September 2016, the country added nearly 41 million FTTH connections. This figure constituted 89 per cent of all FTTH net additions globally over the same period.

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. Please telephone +44 (0)20 3301 3303 or e-mail simona@point-topic.com for more details.