World Fixed Broadband Statistics – Q4 2018

Point Topic has published Q4 2018 broadband subscriber figures

At the end of Q4 2018, the quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers stood at 2.02 per cent. The global number of fixed broadband connections was 1.027bn.

Summary of key findings

At the end of Q4 2018, the quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers stood at 2.02 per cent. The global number of fixed broadband connections was 1.027bn.

The main trends in Q4 2018:

  • The quarterly growth rate in East Asia dropped by 1.3 per cent but the region still maintained the largest market share of all subscribers at 47 per cent and provided nearly 60 per cent of all net additions.
  • Copper connections continued to decline, having dropped by 8 per cent in the last year, while FTTH/B/C connections increased by 29 per cent in the same period. Cable based subscriptions went up by 2.9 per cent.
  • China continued to be the largest fibre growth market. In 12 months to the end of Q4 2018, China saw FTTH connections grow by 24%. This figure constituted 74% of global FTTH net adds in the period.
  • Elsewhere, Thailand, Ireland, Italy and Brazil among others saw significant FTTH quarterly growth rates – 35%, 21%, 15% and 14% respectively. Meanwhile, Slovakia, Greece and Turkey were among the fast growing VDSL markets, with quarterly growth of 12%, 8% and 7% respectively.

Global and regional trends

Figure 1. Trends in world broadband subscriber growth. Source – Point Topic.

In Q4 2018, the number of global fixed broadband subscribers grew by 2.02 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 1.027bn (Figures 1 and 2).

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

Nearly 60 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 47 per cent (Figure 4). Market shares across the regions changed by less than a percentage point, compared to Q3 2018, although East Asia’s net addition share went down from 69 per cent in the previous quarter.

Figure 3. Share of net adds in fixed broadband subscribers by region, Q4 2018. Source – Point Topic.

Figure 4. Share of fixed broadband subscribers by region, Q4 2018. Source – Point Topic

In Q4 2018, the quarterly growth rate in East Asia declined by 1.32 per cent compared to Q3 2018 and stood at 2.57 per cent. This was due to slower fibre growth rates and an increasing decline in xDSL services (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Quarterly growth rates by region, Q4 2018 vs Q3 2018. Source – Point Topic

Quarterly growth rates have also declined in America Other, Oceania and North America. The rest of the world saw an increase in quarterly growth compared to Q3 2018, with Africa seeing the largest difference of 1.4 per cent. In Q4 2018, Africa was the fastest growing region (5.33 per cent quarter-on-quarter), which is no surprise, given that it has the second lowest market share of all fixed broadband subscribers at 1.74 per cent and the lowest fixed broadband penetration at 3.57 per cent. (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Penetration and quarterly growth by region (size of bubble represents subscriber volume in Q4 2018). Source – Point Topic.

In Q4 2018, Asia Other came second in terms of growth in fixed broadband subscribers, with quarterly increase of 3.45 per cent. In this region, strong growth was recorded in Nepal (7.8 per cent), Vietnam (7.5 per cent), Indonesia (7 per cent), Oman and Saudi Arabia (5 per cent), among others. Overall, growth tended to be higher in the countries with lower broadband penetration, with the exception of some markets where mobile broadband dominates due to the low penetration of fixed lines (Figure 7). So, for example in Malaysia, where fixed broadband penetration among the population is only 7.2 per cent, the subscriber number declined by 2.2 per cent in Q4 2018. The reasonably strong growth of fibre connections in the country was not sufficient to compensate for the drop in DSL lines.

Figure 7. Fixed broadband: quarterly growth versus population penetration in Q3 2018. Source: Point Topic. To access these interactive maps, click here

Technology trends

Between Q4 2018 and Q3 2018, the share of fibre connections in the total fixed broadband subscribers continued to grow – it went up by 1.1 per cent globally. The share of cable-based subscriptions dropped slightly in all regions as subscribers further migrated from legacy networks to fibre. The share of copper-based subscriptions (ADSL) continued to deteriorate in all regions. Globally, it fell by 0.7 per cent.

Direct fibre connections continue to grow at high rates. In Q4 2018, 74 per cent of global FTTH net additions came from China which reported a 4 per cent quarterly growth in FTTH connections (24 per cent growth in 12 months to the end of Q4 2018).  Thailand, Ireland, Italy and Brazil among others saw significant FTTH quarterly growth rates – 35 per cent, 21 per cent, 15 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, Slovakia, Greece and Turkey were among the fast growing VDSL markets with quarterly growth of 12 per cent, 8 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Figure 8. Technology market share by region, Q4 2018. Source – Point Topic.

Figure 9. Changes in fixed broadband technology market shares by region, Q4 2018. Source – Point Topic.

In terms of annual changes, between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 the number of copper lines globally fell by 8 per cent, while FTTH connections increased by 22 per cent and FTTx by 6.7 per cent (Figure 10). The trend of subscribers dropping copper in favour of fibre, whether it’s FTTH/B or VDSL, continues.

Figure 10. Annual growth in subscriber numbers by technology (%). Source – Point Topic.

Among the largest broadband markets, in Q4 2018 fibre (FTTH/B/C) penetration varied from 34 per cent in Korea to less than 1 per cent India. Generally, higher penetration means lower prices for consumers, but this is not necessarily the case in less competitive fibre markets such as China, UK or Germany (Figure 11).

Figure 11. Fibre broadband penetration and median tariffs in selected markets, Q4 2018. Source – Point Topic.

Top broadband countries

The top ten countries by the total fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged since Q2 2016 (Figure 12). China is approaching half a billion of fixed broadband subscribers and continues to record the largest broadband net adds globally (Figure 13).

Figure 12. Country ranking by broadband subscribers in Q3 2018.  Source – Point Topic.

Figure 13. Country ranking by broadband net additions in Q3 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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