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  • Writer's pictureJolanta Stanke

Global broadband subscriber growth rebounds as fibre increases its share further in Q3 2023

Executive Summary

This report provides an updated analysis of trends in global and regional broadband subscriptions, technology adoption, and the growth rates in major markets, focusing on the Q3 2023 data.


In Q3 2023, the global fixed broadband connections reached 1.42 billion, following a quarterly growth of 1.6%.  We recorded a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in 21 countries[1], down from 26 in Q2 2023. Some of these markets have high mobile subscriber penetration, others are experiencing high inflation and / or are already highly saturated markets, for example - Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.


Some other key points:


  • Despite the economic uncertainty, the global quarterly growth rate was highest in the four quarters, though the overall trend is of growth slowing down. The highest growth came from the developing and least saturated markets.

  • The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions increased further and stood at 68.3%. Broadband connections based on other technologies saw their market shares shrink further, with an exception of satellite.

  • Among the largest twenty broadband markets all but two saw fixed broadband subscribers grow in Q3 2023. United Kingdom and Thailand recorded a decline in subscribers as the figures migrating to fibre broadband were not sufficient to compensate for copper-based subscriber churn.

  • Among global regions, Africa and East Asia saw the highest increase in broadband connections, driven by healthy growth in such sizeable markets as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, China, Japan and South Korea.

  • The highest FTTH/B broadband subscriber growth rates in Q3 2023 were in Algeria, Peru and Pakistan.

 

Global and regional trends



During Q3 2023, global fixed broadband subscribers increased by 1.6%, reaching 1.42 billion. The growth rate was the highest in the last four quarters, though there is an overall trend of slowing growth, as inflationary pressures and economic instability persist (Figure 1 and Table 1).

 

Table 1. Global broadband subscribers and quarterly growth rates. Source – Point Topic.

Quarter

Subscribers

Net Adds

Growth %

2021Q3

   1,257,840,892

     27,128,413

2.20%

2021Q4

   1,277,601,615

     19,760,723

1.57%

2022Q1

   1,300,883,069

     23,281,454

1.82%

2022Q2

   1,319,163,999

     18,280,930

1.41%

2022Q3

   1,344,024,668

     24,860,669

1.88%

2022Q4

   1,362,667,160

     18,642,492

1.39%

2023Q1

   1,383,789,793

     21,122,633

1.55%

2023Q2

   1,400,886,896

     17,097,103

1.24%

2023Q3

   1,423,284,186

     22,397,290

1.60%

In Q3 2023, East Asia continued to dominate, maintaining its position as the largest market with a 49.96% share of global fixed broadband subscribers, up from 49.62% in Q2 2023. This substantial market share is primarily driven by China with its vast population[2] (Table 2). East Asia also claimed the highest share of net additions at 71.24%. It has recovered from 61.3% in Q2 2023, mainly due to higher net broadband subscriber adds in China. The rest of Asia saw its market share stagnate at 10.78%, while the region’s net additions share plummeted from 15.35% to 10.56% in the same period thanks to lower broadband subscriber adds in such sizeable markets as The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.


Table 2. Share of fixed broadband subscribers and trends in net adds by region: Source - Point Topic

Reporting Region

Q2 2023 Market Share

 Q3 2023 Market Share

Net adds share Q2 2023

Net adds share Q3 2023

Africa

1.75%

1.77%

2.94%

2.87%

America - North

10.65%

10.56%

6.49%

5.55%

America - Other

8.11%

8.07%

9.90%

5.81%

Asia - East

49.62%

49.96%

61.30%

71.24%

Asia - Other

10.78%

10.78%

15.35%

10.56%

Europe - East

5.13%

5.07%

1.73%

1.41%

Europe - Other

13.20%

13.03%

2.16%

2.44%

Oceania

0.77%

0.76%

0.13%

0.12%

Europe showed varied trends: Eastern Europe's market share dropped from 5.13% in Q2 2023 to 5.07% in Q3 2023, with the net additions share falling from 1.73% to 1.41%, reflecting lower growth in Russia, Belarus and Moldova. The rest of Europe also saw a reduction in market share from 13.2% to 13.03%, but the region’s net additions share went up from 2.16% to 2.44%, as the large markets of Italy, Spain, Portugal and some others recorded higher net additions.


North America witnessed a slight dip in its market share, from 10.65% in Q2 2023 to 10.56% in Q3 2023. There was also a fall in the net additions share, from 6.49% to 5.55%, impacted by a slower growth in Canada. The rest of the Americas saw a drop in market share, from 8.11% to 8.07%, coupled with a significant drop in the net additions share from 9.9% in Q2 2023 to 5.81% in Q3 2023, with Mexico, Argentina and Peru, to give some examples, all recording lower growth.


Africa and Oceania saw minor changes in their market shares and net additions shares.



Next we look at fixed broadband penetration among population, comparing it to growth rates across the regions.



Once again, Africa led in terms of growth rate in Q3 2023 with 2.6%, though its broadband penetration among the population remained very low (4.7%). This indicates a growing market with a high potential for expansion, though the dominance of mobile broadband technologies will be hard to overcome.


At the other end of the spectrum, Europe and Oceania recorded modest growth rates of below 0.5%, while recording relatively high population penetration, especially in the case of Europe – Other (39.5%). This region has a limited potential for expansion, with migration from copper to fibre and Docsis3.1 being the prominent trend. Oceania had a population penetration rate of 33.3%, pointing to a market approaching maturity, too. While growth in Eastern Europe remained low at 0.4%, its broadband penetration rate of 25% suggests some headroom for market expansion. However, the pressures of Russia-Ukraine war and economic slowdown are still affecting the region.


North America and America Other were next in the quarterly growth table, with 0.8% and 1.1% respectively. The former is a mature market nearing saturation, with a penetration rate at 39.2%, but the rest of Americas has considerable growth potential, with only 17.7% of population living in households subscribing to broadband.


East Asia is an interesting case - it had the second highest growth rate at 2.3% while broadband penetration there is already 43.5% (the highest among all regions). It would suggest a mature market but it continues to record significant growth (see footnote 2).


Country and technology trends

In Q3 2023, the fastest growth came mainly from the developing countries and least mature broadband markets (Figure 4). In the case of Burkina Faso and some other countries, the growth came from a very low base.



Among the largest twenty broadband markets all but two saw fixed broadband subscribers grow in Q3 2023. United Kingdom and Thailand recorded a decline in subscribers as the figures migrating to fibre broadband were not sufficient to compensate for copper-based subscriber churn. In ten of the twenty markets the growth in Q3 2023 was slower than in the previous quarter. We recorded the largest slowdown in Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam.


Table 3. Changes in quarterly growth in fixed broadband subscribers in the largest 20 markets. Source: Point Topic.

Country

Growth, Q2 2023

Growth, Q3 2023

Change in quarterly growth, %

China

1.67%

2.52%

0.85%

United States

0.67%

0.81%

0.14%

Japan

0.33%

0.32%

-0.01%

Brazil

1.74%

1.74%

0.01%

Germany

0.44%

0.32%

-0.12%

India

4.25%

4.97%

0.71%

Russian Federation

0.40%

0.16%

-0.24%

France

0.22%

0.19%

-0.03%

United Kingdom

-0.30%

-0.10%

0.21%

Mexico

1.70%

0.04%

-1.65%

Korea, Republic of

0.74%

0.58%

-0.16%

Viet Nam

3.00%

1.48%

-1.52%

Turkey

1.55%

1.56%

0.01%

Italy

-0.23%

0.14%

0.37%

Canada

1.32%

1.03%

-0.29%

Spain

0.67%

0.98%

0.30%

Thailand

1.27%

-0.55%

-1.82%

Indonesia

0.80%

1.19%

0.39%

Egypt

2.12%

2.42%

0.30%

Argentina

1.61%

1.12%

-0.49%

The developing markets of India, China, Egypt and Brazil had the highest quarterly growth rates in Q3 2023, all above 1.5%. In fact, India stood out with nearly 5%. There was modest growth in Russia which is still under international sanctions. China and India recorded the largest improvements in their growth rates compared to Q2 2023, at +0.85% and +0.71% respectively.


Technology trends

Fibre continues to be the dominant broadband technology, and its market share continues to grow. Between Q2 2023 and Q3 2023, the share of FTTH/B connections in the total fixed broadband subscriptions went up by 0.62% and stood at 68.3%. Broadband connections based on other technologies saw their market shares shrink further, with an exception of satellite, whose market share remained stable.

 

Table 4. Changes in broadband technology market shares. Source – Point Topic.

Broadband Technology

Q2 2023 Market Share

Q3 2023 Market Share

Difference

Cable

15.40%

15.26%

-0.14%

Copper

7.48%

7.19%

-0.29%

FTTH/B

67.63%

68.25%

0.62%

FTTx

7.13%

6.96%

-0.16%

Satellite

0.25%

0.25%

0.00%

Wireless

1.69%

1.68%

-0.01%

Others

0.42%

0.41%

-0.01%

The share of FTTx (mainly VDSL) stood at 6.96%, down from 7.48%[3]. FTTx subscriber numbers grew in 19 countries (including quarterly increase in the large VDSL markets of Turkey and Germany, for example), while they fell in 30 other markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.


In the context of fibre broadband expansion, we looked at the growth of FTTH/B in markets with at least 0.5 million fibre broadband connections (Table 5). Among the ten fastest growing markets, the majority were in developing economies. Algeria, Peru and Pakistan recorded FTTH/B growth rate of more than 10%. All top ten markets saw their fibre connections grow by more than 6% in the quarter, witnessing a significant rebound compared to Q2 2023.


Table 5. Top 10 markets by FTTH/B growth rates (countries with at least 0.5m fibre broadband subscribers). Source: Point Topic.

Country

FTTH/B subscriber growth, Q3 2023

Algeria

21.8%

Peru

15.3%

Pakistan

12.3%

Colombia

9.3%

Paraguay

9.1%

Israel

8.8%

Costa Rica

7.7%

Ireland

7.5%

Kenya

7.1%

Turkey

6.4%

In terms of FTTH/B broadband net additions in Q3 2023, China continued to maintain a significant lead with 13 million, while India and United States once again added more than a million each. See our complete dataset for full details.


Between Q3 2022 and Q3 2023, broadband technologies globally diverged further. The number of copper lines saw another decline (-11.3%), while FTTH/B connections grew by 10.7%, as consumers continued to show preference for higher bandwidth and operators encouraged consumer migration. In the face of competition from fibre, cable broadband subscribers also declined by 0.7%, while FTTx dropped by 1.5% (Figure 5).  



Satellite broadband saw a modest growth of 3.9% while wireless broadband, such as high speed FWA, demonstrated continued relevance with a respectable growth rate of 4.8%. These trends can be attributed to the demand for connectivity in remote and underserved areas where wired broadband infrastructure is difficult to deploy.


Overall, the analysis confirms a trend of consumers increasingly choosing ultrafast broadband solutions such as FTTH/B. Older technologies such as copper-based broadband and even cable are experiencing a decline, as broadband operators strive to meet the growing demand for faster and more reliable connectivity and increase the value of their networks. Satellite and fixed wireless networks also continue to be relevant in more challenging landscapes.


This report is pulled from our Global Broadband Statistics product. Customers who subscribe receive access to the full data set.

 

[1] It is possible there will be restatements in the coming quarter/s and single period data should be viewed in that light. Decline in some markets can be due to changes in methodology used by national regulatory authorities.

[2] Although we use them in our reports, we cannot vouch for the country’s officially reported broadband subscriber figures which suggest household penetration well over 100%.

[3] Some of our FTTx subscriber figures include both FTTB/FTTH and VDSL, as it is not always possible to identify the technology split in some operators’ figures reported as ‘fibre’.


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