Fixed Broadband Subscribers in Q4 2021
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
FTTH/B claiming 62% of the global total
Summary of key findings
At the end of Q4 2021, the number of global fixed broadband connections grew by 1.5% and stood at 1.27bn. As before, the extent of growth varied across different markets, with 14 countries reporting a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in Q4 2021, up from 13 in Q3 2021. The decline was mainly either in saturated broadband markets with high household penetration or those where mobile connections are the preferred way of getting online.
Main trends in Q4 2021
Fixed broadband subscriber figures grew in 89 per cent of the 130 countries covered in this report.
The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 62.5 per cent. Superfast and ultrafast cable broadband connections followed with an 18 per cent share.
Both cable and copper connections lost market shares to fibre. Between Q4 2021 and Q4 2020, the number of copper lines fell by 10.9 per cent, while FTTH/FTTB connections increased by 13.6 per cent.
China added 9 million, Brazil 1.6 million and France just over a million FTTH/B broadband subscriptions.
The highest FTTH/B broadband growth rates were mainly in developing markets, with the UK, France, Italy and Germany also reporting significant quarterly growth.
Global and regional trends
In Q4 2021, the quarterly fixed broadband subscriber growth rate stood at 1.5 per cent, with the number of connections reaching 1.27 bn (Figures 1 and 2). The growth rate was slightly lower than in the respective quarter of 2020.
East Asia’s share of net additions to fixed broadband subscribers dropped from 64 per cent in Q3 2021 to 52 per cent in Q3 2021 (Figure 3). This was mainly due to the 43 per cent decrease in broadband connection adds in China this quarter. As a result, the share of adds in Asia – Other has increased from 14 per cent to 25 per cent. In Q4 2021, we recorded negative net adds in Eastern Europe due to the -8 per cent quarterly fall in fixed broadband subscribers in Ukraine, even before the invasion.
East Asia has retained the largest regional market share of fixed broadband connections at 48 per cent (Figure 4). Compared to Q3 2021, North America, Eastern Europe, Europe Other and Oceania saw their market shares decline while they increased for Africa, America Other, East Asia and Asia Other though in all regions the changes were less than one percentage point.
In Q4 2021, the growth of fixed broadband subscribers in the Americas, East Asia, and across Europe was slower, compared to the previous quarter. The growth speeded up in Africa and Asia and Other, while it stayed almost unchanged in Oceania (Figures 5 and 6).
Oceania maintained the lowest market share of global fixed broadband subscribers at 0.8 per cent. It was followed by Africa with 1.6 per cent. With the lowest fixed broadband penetration at 4 per cent of the population, Africa saw the second fastest growth among all regions in Q4 2021 (3 per cent), though it came from a low base of 20.6 million subscribers. The growth rate was highest in the developing markets of Asia Other where it stood at 3.7 per cent, with the second lowest population penetration at 5 per cent (Figure 7).
All largest 20 broadband markets saw growth this quarter. In 13 of the 20 markets the growth was slower than in Q3 2021, which is not unexpected given seasonal fluctuations in various parts of the world. Compared to the previous quarter, the Q4 2021 growth was significantly slower in China, where fixed broadband penetration is already high and 5G is growing at dramatic rates.
Between Q4 2021 and Q3 2021, the share of FTTH/B connections in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to grow – it went up by 0.6 per cent and stood at 62.5 per cent. Both cable and copper-based (ADSL) broadband connections saw their market shares shrink further. In Q4 2021, they held 17.7 per cent and 10.7 per cent shares respectively. FTTx share increased by 0.03 per cent and stood at 9.2 per cent, with VDSL doing well in certain countries (the sizable markets of Turkey, Germany, Greece and Czech Republic, for example).
We looked at FTTH/B growth rates in the markets with at least 0.5m fibre broadband connections. At the country level, the highest fibre growth rates in Q4 2021 were mainly in the developing markets, with the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany also reporting significant growth, as in previous quarters.
In terms of FTTH/B broadband net additions in Q4 2021, China led with 8.9 million, while Brazil and France added more than a million subscriptions.
Between Q4 2021 and Q4 2020, the number of copper lines fell by 10.9 per cent, while FTTH/FTTB connections increased by 13.6 per cent (Figure 12). Wireless (mostly FWA) connections also saw a respectable growth of 8.4 per cent as these technologies are increasingly used where fixed broadband networks are difficult to deploy.
Top broadband countries
The top ten countries by total fixed broadband subscribers remain largely unchanged (Figure 13). China has more than half a billion fixed broadband subscribers, having added more than 9.5 million connections in Q4 2021. The country also continues to record a dramatic growth in 5G subscribers, with more than 105 million added in Q4 2021 to reach a total of 729.5 million.
Predictably, the smallest and well developed economies are among the top ten countries by fixed broadband penetration.
 It is possible there will be restatements in the coming quarter/s and single period data should be viewed in that light.  Some of our FTTx figures may include direct fibre as it is not always possible to identify direct fibre subscribers in some operators’ FTTx figures. TweetSubscribe
The data used in this report is taken from Point Topic’s Global Broadband Statistics service that allows customers to analyse the datasets covering fixed broadband subscribers in more than 130 countries at country, operator and technology level.
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