According to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, global fixed-broadband subscription numbers will reach half a billion this year, driven by continued growth in emerging markets. But we can’t help thinking that Informa’s hope that the developing countries will play catch up and dig up the roads of India, Africa, China etc to put in fibre are a bit far fetched. Why would you want to dig up a road, build roadside cabinets and rely on incredibly iffy power supplies? When you can build a sun/wind powered mobile network in a tenth of the time and for a hundredth of the cost? Seems like very short-sighted analysis to us. But here’s the 21st Jan 10 release (in italics below), so make your own decisions.
Although the fixed-broadband markets of the wealthiest countries in the world are fast becoming saturated, tens of millions of homes in some of the world’s largest markets, such as China and India, are still without broadband. These underserved markets are poised to drive a second wave of broadband growth, creating opportunities for operators, investors and equipment vendors.
“Overall the number of net new fixed-broadband subscriptions grew in 2009 to over 480 million, largely as a result of accelerating growth in emerging markets and we expect this number to reach 500 million this year. China, Russia, Mexico, India and Vietnam were among the countries that recorded the greatest leaps in fixed-broadband subscription numbers last year,” comments Rob Gallagher, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and Lead Author of the Next 100 Million report.
“China extended its lead over the US, and Russia overtook Italy to claim the No. 8 spot. India, Mexico, Turkey, the Ukraine and Vietnam look set to also grow strongly, provided that current trends continue,” he adds.
Latest figures indicate that seven of the top 20 countries by fixed-broadband subscription count at the end of September 2009 could be classified as emerging markets (see table below). The number of net additions in each of these countries was up substantially year-on-year, while those of the world’s largest developed markets were either flat or down.
“Given that about four out of five households do not have broadband in these markets, there is still much room for growth. We forecast that these underserved markets will contribute the bulk of the next 100 million subscriptions by 2014. This represents a major opportunity. Already we have seen that most of the world’s fastest-growing operators were based in underpenetrated emerging markets,” concludes Gallagher.
All regions recorded increases in fixed-broadband household penetration of between three and five percentage points in the first half of 2009, bar Africa, because of problems such as poor fixed-line infrastructure and low income levels. Many of the fastest-growing markets relative to their size were in the Middle East, despite high levels of fixed-broadband household penetration.
Table: Global, countries by fixed-broadband subscriptions, end-Sep-09
Source: Informa Telecoms & Media
Informa’s Next 100 Million report can be accessed here