Nicolas delafraye - stock.adobe.

Global broadband market sees fibre push

Trend towards fibre and dropping copper for broadband links continues in second quarter, but at a slower rate

The number of new copper-based broadband lines fell by 6.6% globally in the second quarter of 2019 compared with Q2 2018, while fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections increased by 18.6% and FTTx/VDSL by 7.1%, according to research from Point Topic.

At the end of the quarter, growth of fixed broadband subscribers stood at 1.7% and the number of global fixed broadband connections totalled 1.08 billion. Wireless, mostly fixed wireless access (FWA), and satellite saw healthy growth of 26% and 9.1%, respectively, while cable connections grew by just 2%.

Even though there was a clear trend towards fibre, the increase was at a slower rate than in the previous quarter. Global fixed broadband growth was the lowest in the last six quarters, and the overall trend over the last four quarters was a slowdown in growth, said Point Topic.

It attributed this mainly to saturation of broadband markets in the leading economies and the increasing take-up of mobile broadband connections over 4G and 5G technologies.

Direct fibre connections continued to grow at high rates. Between the first and second quarters of 2019, the market share of fibre connections in the total of fixed broadband subscribers inched forward, rising by 0.96% globally. Meanwhile, the share of cable-based subscriptions dipped by 0.38% as subscribers further migrated from legacy networks to fibre.

China continued to be the largest fibre growth market, accounting for two-thirds (11 million) of global FTTH net adds. Belgium, Thailand, Argentina, the Philippines, Chile and South Africa, among others, saw double-digit FTTH quarterly growth rates.

Point Topic noted that in the second quarter, 66% of global FTTH net additions came from China, which now has approaching half a billion fixed broadband subscribers. Yet in the same quarter, the country saw quarterly growth of just 3% in FTTH connections, compared with double-digit growth in Belgium, Thailand, Argentina, the Philippines, Chile and South Africa, among others.

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