Point Topic’s latest quarterly report on the state of global fixed broadband has shown that at the end of Q4 2021, the number of global fixed broadband connections grew by 1.5% and stood at 1.27 billion.
The growth rate was slightly lower than in the respective quarter of 2020, and also compared with 2.21% at the end of the third quarter of 2021 and 1.91% at the end of Q2.
As with previous studies, the extent of growth varied across different markets, with 14 countries reporting a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in Q4 2021, up from 13 in the third quarter of 2021. The decline was said to be mainly either in saturated broadband markets with high household penetration or those where mobile connections are the preferred way of getting online.
Overall, in Q4 2021, fixed broadband subscriber figures grew in 89% of the 130 countries covered in the report. The share of fibre-to-the-home/buildings (FTTH/B) in total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 62.5%. Superfast and ultrafast cable broadband connections followed, with an 18% share.
China added nine million, Brazil 1.6 million and France just over a million FTTH/B broadband subscriptions. The highest FTTH/B broadband growth rates were mainly in developing markets, with the UK, France, Italy and Germany also reporting significant quarterly growth. East Asia’s share of net additions to fixed broadband subscribers dropped from 64% in Q3 2021 to 52% in Q3 2021. This was mainly due to the 43% decrease in broadband connection adds in China this quarter
In Q4 2021, the analyst recorded negative net adds in Eastern Europe due to the 8% quarterly fall in fixed broadband subscribers in Ukraine, even before the invasion.
East Asia has retained the largest regional market share of fixed broadband connections at 48%. Compared with Q3 2021, North America, Eastern Europe, Europe Other and Oceania saw their market shares decline, while they increased for Africa, America Other, East Asia and Asia Other, though in all regions the changes were by less than one percentage point. In Q4 2021, the growth of fixed broadband subscribers in the Americas, East Asia and across Europe was slower compared with the previous quarter.
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The growth speeded up in Africa and Asia Other, while it stayed almost unchanged in Oceania. The latter region maintained the lowest market share of global fixed broadband subscribers at 0.8%, followed by Africa with 1.6%.
With the lowest fixed broadband penetration at 4% of the population, Africa saw the second-fastest growth among all regions in Q4 2021 (3%), though it came from a low base of 20.6 million subscribers. The growth rate was highest in the developing markets of Asia Other, where it stood at 3.7%, with the second-lowest population penetration at 5%.
In terms of technologies, both cable and copper-based broadband connections lost market shares to fibre. Between Q4 2021 and Q4 2020, the number of copper lines fell by 10.9%, while FTTH/FTTB connections increased by 13.6%.
Between Q4 2021 and Q3 2021, the share of FTTH/B connections in total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to grow, going up by 0.6% and standing at 62.5%.
Both cable and copper connections saw their market shares shrink further. In Q4 2021, they held 17.7% and 10.7% shares respectively. FTTx share increased by 0.03% and stood at 9.2%.
Point Topic pointed out that VDSL was doing well in certain countries, namely the sizeable markets of Turkey, Germany, Greece and Czechia.