Broadband equipment market spikes as fibre subscribers boom

Worldwide revenues from broadband customer premises equipment spiked in 2014 as subscriber numbers boomed and ISPs rolled out more fibre

Growth in sales of fibre to the premises (FTTP) and Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS) 3.0 customer premises equipment (CPE) pushed the worldwide broadband network hardware market to a high of $10.5bn in 2014, up just under 10% compared with 2013.

In a report on the global broadband market tracking DSL, cable, FTTP, fixed LTE, mobile broadband routers and residential gateway hardware, analysts at Infonetics Research revealed an emerging race to deliver Gigabit broadband services in mature markets behind the upward trend.

“Service providers are making significant investments in new technologies that provide a marketing advantage in terms of speeds offered over competitors,” explained Infonetics research director for broadband access and pay TV, Jeff Heynen.

“The net result is continued growth in DOCSIS 3.0 and upcoming 3.1 devices for cable operators, and FTTP, Very High Data Rate DSL (VDSL) and for telcos.” 

FTTP was the fastest-growing CPE segment in 2014, said Infonetics, up 18%.

Clamour for fibre

The analyst house predicted the share of the market held by traditional DSL broadband CPE would continue to dip as telecoms firms switched to more FTTP services.

But many operators could bypass FTTP altogether and turn to LTE mobile spectrum to deliver fixed LTE services, said the analysts.

Fixed LTE may become a much more viable option in the UK, given UK 4G networks can already outpace broadband network speeds in some areas.

But for now fixed broadband dominates the market, with subscriber numbers worldwide up 8% in 2014 – reaching 733 million, 100 million of them on FTTP connections, said Infonetics.

The report found China and south-east Asia, as well as other leading emerging economies – including those of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – would experience the most significant growth as the market surges towards one billion broadband subscribers by the turn of the next decade. China Telecom already has the most broadband customers of any internet service provider (ISP) in the world.

“Broadband has become a consumer-driven industry,” said Heynen. “Consumers essentially saved the fixed broadband business by bingeing on Netflix, and now broadband providers are consistently investing in higher-end FTTX and DOCSIS 3.0 technologies to keep those innovators happy.”

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications