At the end of Q3 2017, the quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers recovered compared to the previous quarter and stood at 2.38 per cent. The global number of fixed broadband connections stood at 913.3m.
The main trends in Q3 2017:
Figure 1. World broadband subscriber numbers and growth. Source – Point Topic.
In Q3 2017, the number of global fixed broadband subscribers grew by 2.38 per cent quarter-on-quarter. The growth recovered after the dip in Q2 2017 and almost matched the quarterly growth in Q1 2017 (Figures 1 and 2).
Figure 2. World broadband subscriber quarterly growth figures. Source – Point Topic.
In Q3 2017, 74 per cent of all net additions in fixed broadband subscribers came from East Asia (Figure 3), a nearly 2 per cent increase compared to Q2 2017. The quarterly growth rate in percentage terms was the highest in Africa and stood at nearly 5 per cent due to healthy growth in Ghana and Kenya (Figure 4).
Figure 3. Share of net adds in fixed broadband subscribers by region, Q3 2017. Source – Point Topic.
In Q3 2017 the next highest growth q-o-q was recorded in East Asia (4 per cent) and Asia – Other (2.6 per cent). In East Asia, China added 15m broadband subscribers and recorded a 7 per cent quarterly boost in FTTH connections. In the case of Asia – Other, Vietnam added nearly 900,000 FTTH subscribers and saw an 11 per cent quarterly growth in the total fixed broadband customer base.
Figure 4. Penetration and quarterly growth by region (size of bubble represents subscriber volume in Q3 2017). Source – Point Topic.
The share of copper based technologies (DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+) in the total subscriber figure continued to fall in all regions. In Q3 2017, the fall was especially notable in Oceania and Europe, where FTTH and FTTx, which includes VDSL, continues to gain more ground (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Technology market share by region, Q3 2017. Source – Point Topic.
The share of fibre connections in total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase in all regions apart from Asia, where it already is the dominant technology. Meanwhile the share of cable based subscriptions dropped slightly in Europe and Oceania as subscribers migrated from cable networks to FTTH and VDSL platforms.
In terms of the annual changes, between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017 the number of copper lines globally fell by 6.3 per cent, while FTTH connections increased by 30.4 per cent (Figure 6). These figures are similar compared to the previous quarter with a prominent trend of copper to direct fibre substitution. The negative growth in FTTx lines was caused mainly by this technology being replaced with FTTH on a large scale in China, and to some extent in other countries. At the same time, fixed wireless technologies are increasingly giving way to 4G LTE based mobile broadband access. In fact, 4G LTE is offered as one of the ways to get broadband at home in several countries and regions, for example Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Figure 6. Annual growth in technology subscriber numbers (%). Source – Point Topic.
Globally, from Q3 2015 FTTH is used by more broadband 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. At the same time, a number of cable providers especially in Canada and the US are responding with Docsis 3.1 deployments also capable of gigabit speeds.
The top ten countries by the total fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged since Q2 2016 (Figure 7). However, in Q3 2017 France was pushed down to the sixth place in the rating by the Russian Federation after coming in fifth for two years since Q1 2017. China passed a quarter of a billion fixed broadband subscriber milestone in Q1 2016 and continues to grow at impressive speed.
Figure 7. Top 10 countries by broadband subscribers in Q3 2017. Source – Point Topic.
Figure 8. Broadband subscribers added in Q3 2017. Source – Point Topic.
China also dominates globally by the number of quarterly net additions in fixed broadband subscribers, which continues to be driven by the state funded FTTH rollout on a massive scale. In 12 months to the end of Q3 2017, the country added nearly 69 million FTTH connections. At the same time, the quarterly net adds in the United States in Q3 2017 were only 56 per cent of the Q2 2017 net adds as growth there appears to be slowing down.
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 [email protected] for more details.