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March 16, 2023
The global market for fixed broadband connections will grow faster than previously expected over the period to the end of the decade, according to new research published this week.
There will be 1.6 billion fixed broadband subscribers worldwide by the end of 2030, Point Topic predicts, which represents a growth rate of 18% from mid-2022. That’s slightly more than the 1.55 billion the analyst firm predicted in late 2021, the increase coming as a result of higher take-up and bigger addressable audiences in some markets
The increased prediction is perhaps something of a surprise, given that it comes at a time when 5G rollouts are getting underway in earnest in many global markets. Mobile has long been the technology of choice for connecting to the Internet in all but the most developed global markets, and added to that is the growing opportunity for 5G-based fixed wireless access (FWA), which is emerging as a credible alternative to fixed broadband.
That said, the Point Topic numbers were published shortly after a new set of data from Omdia, whose research shows that broadband adoption by business customers globally is flourishing, in terms of revenues and subscriptions, and both on fixed and mobile. Interestingly, the firm notes that 5G rollouts are actually helping fixed uptake.
Specifically, businesses are swapping out legacy dedicated services for higher-speed and lower-cost broadband alternatives, Omdia said. “Wireless broadband is also growing in strength: 5G is the strongest complement yet to conventional wireline services.”
Point Topic’s numbers, which cover both residential and business connections, show that fixed broadband growth will be strongest in the emerging markets over the forecast period, with a number of countries in that category focusing on the expansion of fixed broadband infrastructure, particularly fibre.
“The demand for ultrafast broadband has been increasing at healthy rates in these generally large and growing populations and economies, with Indonesia and Philippines just a couple of examples,” the firm noted.
It categorises markets as emerging, youthful or mature based on the amount of time since the technology was introduced, incidentally. Emerging markets will grow by 45.5% over the forecast period, youthful markets at 15.7%, and mature at 8.1%, according to the data.
Youthful countries have experienced steep growth curves to date and as a result will see growth slow over the remainder of the decade. This category includes China, which has invested heavily in broadband over the past 10 years. China will remain the largest market in the largest fixed broadband region – South East Asia – unsurprisingly, although with household penetration already high, growth will slow down significantly to 4.6%.
Emerging and youthful markets are the ones behind the increased growth forecast. Point Topic names Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with predicted growth rates of 36% and 34% respectively, and Malaysia with expected 16% growth, as key examples of countries where fixed broadband uptake has been higher than expected to date and where addressable audiences have increased, but there are also others.
Naturally there are also markets where growth forecasts are much lower. These include mature economies where penetration is already high, like France, Hong Kong and Malta, and those where penetration is low, but socio-economic conditions stand in the way of broadband investment and uptake, Venezuela being one example.
Nonetheless, this is overall a pretty favourable picture for those involved in the fixed broadband industry.
Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.
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