One in five, some 422 million, households worldwide will have a fixed broadband connection in the home by the end of 2009, according to market analyst Gartner.
The UK is expected to slip from 11th most connected country today to 12th by then, it said (see table). However, BT said last week its fixed wire broadband network could reach up to 75% of homes by 2011, if consumers demanded it.
The report referred to broadband as fixed broadband technologies such as DSL, cable modem, FTTH/FTTP/Ethernet, and other high-speed technologies. These include static fixed-line replacement technology for the main broadband access into the home, such as multichannel multipoint distribution service [MMDS], LANDesk management suite [LDMS], Wimax, satellite and power lines.
Despite the recession consumers were not signing off from broadband, said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner. Keeping demand strong were cheaper PCs, migration from dial-up, cheaper broadband subscriptions, aging populations that needed broadband connectivity, and country-specific economic and broadband-specific stimulus plans, she said.
At the end of 2008, some 21 countries had broadband connections in at least 50% of homes. In some the rates were much higher, the highest being South Korea at 86% and the lowest Indonesia at less than 1%.
Gartner said that China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Latin American countries, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa would together over the next five years provide twice as many new consumer broadband connections as mature markets: 135 million vs. 62 million connections, respectively.
The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) would add 92 million (68%) of that, giving them almost half (47%) of the total global increase in connections. China would lead with 62 million (46%) of the 135 million new broadband connections in emerging markets.
Gartner expected the US to add 27 million new broadband connections between 2008 and 2013, the most in mature markets. Japan would add almost 10 million, Germany 5 million and the UK slightly over 3 million connections, it said.
Despite the growth in emerging markets, there would also be more new household, pegging down penetration rates, Gartner said. This meant the digital divide would remain in the 50% to 54% range for the foreseeable future, it said.
Gartner estimated that the world market for consumer fixed voice, internet and broadband services was worth $372bn in 2008 of which 27% was broadband access. Broadband services would continue to drive revenue growth, offsetting declining revenue from voice, and supplying almost 40% of the $347bn total revenue in 2013, it said.
Sabia said manufacturers of modems, routers and PCs and providers of carrier infrastructure would benefit most from the increase in connections. "Government, medical and educational institutions will have alternative access to their customers via the household broadband connection," she said.