Take-up of superfast technologies provided a significant spur to growth in the global broadband market in the final quarter of 2012, according to figures compiled by market-research firm Point Topic on behalf of the Broadband Forum.
The overall number of broadband connections rose by 8.6%, to nearly 644 million, compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, but connections served by fiber-based technologies – including VDSL and VDSL2 – grew by 27.5%, to more than 114 million.
“These are promising figures as they highlight the ongoing strength of the broadband market,” said Robin Mersh, the chief executive of the Broadband Forum. “We are increasingly witnessing a shift in technology, particularly to fiber, as consumer habits evolve and the demand for higher bandwidths increases.”
Serving about 21% of all connections, fiber also now accounts for a bigger share of the total than rival cable technologies, with 19% of the overall market.
New technological advances appear to be prolonging the usage of older copper-based assets in tandem with fiber infrastructure.
“Demand for bandwidth can be satisfied by FTTx solutions, particularly in combination with vectoring, bonding and other incremental VDSL2 improvements so operators will continue to maximize the lifetime of their existing assets,” said Oliver Johnson, the chief executive of Point Topic.
China remains the world’s biggest broadband market by some stretch, with 178 million connections at the end of 2012, while the USA takes second place, with about 95 million connections.
Brazil, however, was the world’s fastest-growing broadband market in the fourth quarter, with the number connections up by 18%, to about 19.5 million, compared with the same period of 2011.
The Broadband Forum also notes continued growth in mature markets such as the USA and France, citing this as evidence of “broadband strength during economic challenges”.
The organization also tracks the adoption of IPTV services, which are now used by 11.8% of all broadband subscribers, up from 10.4% at the end of 2011.
“While China, France and the US continue to hold the top three spots in IPTV, we are seeing strong percentage growth in the emerging markets of Korea (32%), Russia (86%) and the Netherlands (45%),” said the Broadband Forum in a statement.