The decline in copper broadband subscriber numbers accelerates in 2013

June 24, 2013   |   Laura Kell

Point Topic publishes fixed broadband subscriber numbers for Q1 2013

At the end of 2012, broadband analyst firm Point Topic reported that subscriber numbers for copper-based broadband services had fallen for the first time, with 415k subscribers lost in the fourth quarter. New figures reported by Point Topic show that this decline has accelerated in 2013, with 2.77m copper broadband subscribers lost in the first three months of the year.

‘Copper-based’ services include all DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+ subscribers reported by operators across the world. Point Topic’s database of subscriber numbers also includes cable subscriber numbers, FTTx/VDSL and FTTH.

“Of course copper remains the dominant service for most users across the world,” commented Laura Kell, Operations Director at Point Topic. “But we believe that we are starting to see a shift in technology, particularly to fibre and hybrid fibre, as consumers require and will pay for higher speeds from their broadband connections.”

FTTx services have grown rapidly over the last two years, and at the end of March 2013 subscriber numbers had overtaken cable for the first time. Whilst the popularity of FTTH services has also grown, it has been at a much lower rate and their overall market share is much lower.

Point Topic - fixed broadband subscriber numbers by technology - trendsFigure 1: growth of fixed broadband services since 2005. Source – Point Topic

There are significant differences in the adoption of broadband technologies across the world. Nearly 50% of the fixed broadband market in the Americas is served by cable. This is also the key market for FTTH technology – although other fibre technologies are yet to make an impact. Asia has the largest market for FTTx technologies, with highest population penetration in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.

Most of the decrease in copper subscribers originates in Asia while Africa is the only region which continues to post growth for copper subscriber numbers.

Point Topic - fixed broadband subscriber numbers - regional technology market share - Q1 2013Figure 2 – share of broadband subscribers by region. Source – Point Topic

”Fixed broadband will continue to struggle in Africa as there is little or no legacy infrastructure and the superfast bandwidths will not be common for some time. Meanwhile in Asia and Europe where hybrid fibre is the technology of choice at the moment we see increasing overall bandwidths but perhaps at the cost of the ‘future proofing’ that end to end fibre provides,” says Kell.

Point Topic’s new data includes subscriber numbers for fixed broadband and also IPTV and VoIP services.

Further reading

Free report – fixed broadband subscriber numbers Q1 2013

Free report – IPTV subscriber numbers Q1 2013

Free report – VoIP subscriber numbers Q1 2013

Key to technologies

  • DSL – basic copper broadband using the existing plain old telephone system (POTS). Sometimes used as a catch all term for any end to end copper service.
  • ADSL – Asymmetric, higher bandwidth than plain DSL but still using POTS
  • ADSL2+ – the highest bandwidth service over end to end copper (from exchange to premises)
  • VDSL – usually deployed as part of a hybrid copper and fibre network this refers to the copper in the local loop
  • FTTx –fibre to the ‘x’, usually Fibre to the cabinet/node/kerb. Usually requires VDSL for the final few hundred metres of delivery
  • FTTH – Fibre to the Home. End to end fibre connection.

About Point Topic

Point Topic is the primary websource for DSL, FTTx, cable and other broadband supplier and user statistics, databases, information and reports. Its data is in use worldwide amongst governments, commercial organisations and as general reference. A range of online services provides the most up-to-date, accurate and cost effective worldwide and UK specific broadband data sets available. See for more details.

For media information please contact Laura Kell at [email protected] or on: +44(0)20 3301 3305.