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Gigabit internet now available to one in 20 globally

5G starts eating into fibre as 5% of the global population gain access to gigabit networks

Gigabit internet is now available to an estimated 354 million people across 51 countries, accounting for 5% of the global population, according to the latest Gigabit monitor from network test, monitoring and assurance solutions provider VIAVI.

In overall terms, the survey confirmed the gradual shift away from wired gigabit internet provision toward wireless technologies. It also noted that as gigabit-capable 5G networks go live around the world, cellular technology’s share of gigabit internet provision has increased, with a corresponding drop in fibre’s share.

However, VIAVI cautioned that such top-line observations regarding wireless belie the fact that fibre remains the back-haul infrastructure of choice across most cellular, cable and telecom networks, making fibre a critical, if sometimes hidden, component for most gigabit internet providers.

“As commercial 5G networks are rolled out in greater numbers, the pace of this transition will escalate radically and will soon reach a tipping point,” said Sameh Yamany, chief technology officer at VIAVI. “Yet even with the global rise of 5G networks, the importance of testing and troubleshooting fibre will remain paramount as mobile operators deploy more and more fibre-based network infrastructure.”

Regionally, the Gigabit monitor survey found that the US was the global gigabit leader, with gigabit internet available to 68.5 million people – up four million since August 2018. China was not far behind, overtaking South Korea as the country with the second-largest availability of gigabit internet.

In China, gigabit internet is now available to 61.5 million people, up a remarkable 41 million since August of last year. That said, 61.5 million people is just 4.5% of China’s population. The survey showed South Korea had gigabit access for 46.9 million, Spain 30.1 million and Canada 15.9 million.

When coverage was considered as a percentage of population, Singapore was the global leader, with gigabit internet available to 95% of its population. Only two new gigabit countries, Bahrain and Malaysia, came online over the last 12 months, compared with eight a year ago.

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