Global Broadband Subscriptions at end-2022: Fibre Claims Two Thirds
Summary of key findings In 2022, the number of global fixed broadband connections grew by 6.65% and stood at 1.36bn. We recorded a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in twelve countries which mainly include emerging markets, as well as a couple of mature markets in well developed countries.
Global fixed broadband subscriber growth was the second slowest in the last four quarters and stood at 1.43%.
Among global regions, Africa and Asia Other saw the fastest growth in broadband connections (2.6% and 1.8%), not least due to low broadband penetration and healthy increases in broadband subscribers in the largest markets of India, Vietnam, Turkey and Thailand.
The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 65.7%. Cable broadband connections followed with a 16.3% share, while ADSL fell to 8.8 and FTTx to 6.8%.
VDSL subscriber numbers grew in thirteen countries, while they dropped in at least nineteen markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.
The highest FTTH/B broadband subscriber growth rates in Q4 2022 were in Germany, Peru, Argentina, India, and UK.
Global and regional trends
Global fixed broadband subscribers have been growing steadily over the past several quarters. During 2022, their number increased from 1.277 billion to 1.362 billion in, which represents a growth of 6.65% over this period (Figures 1 and 2). The quarterly net adds, have fluctuated but remained positive, ranging from 18.08 million in Q2 2022 to a 24.86 million in Q3 2022. The quarterly growth rate has also fluctuated but remained positive, ranging from 1.39% in Q2 2022 to 1.89% in Q3 2022. These trends suggest that demand for broadband connectivity continues to grow globally, driven by factors such as remote work and online learning, as well as the increasing prevalence of new technologies and applications that require high-speed internet access.
East Asia dominates the market with a 49.10% share of global fixed broadband subscribers, mainly due to China’s market size, and the region’s net adds share of 61.52% suggests it is still expanding (Figures 3 and 4). Other Asian regions hold a 10.82% market share, with a 13.79% net adds share, also indicating robust growth. Eastern Europe's market share is 5.26% with a 3.69% net adds share, while the other European regions have a 13.58% market share and a 4.17% net adds share. North America's market share is at 10.67%, with a net adds share of 4.23%. Other American regions (Latin America) have an 8.04% market share, but a notably higher net adds share of 9.50%, pointing to a faster growth rate in these less mature markets.
Africa's market share of fixed broadband subscribers stands at a modest 1.75%, and its net adds share is second lowest at 3.15%, indicating a modestly growing interest in fixed broadband services. Lastly, Oceania's market share is 0.77%, but with a negative net adds share of -0.05%, it is experiencing a decline in fixed broadband subscribers.
Compared to Q3 2022, East Asia and Asia Other have seen their net adds shares decrease by 3% and 1% respectively, as a result of Europe, Americas and Africa recording higher net adds this quarter. Overall, the data reveals a dynamic landscape for fixed broadband subscribers with still substantial growth in Asian regions and promising expansion in Latin American markets, especially Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.
In Q4 2022, the quarterly growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers was lower than in Q3 2022 in most regions (Figure 5), except for Africa, Eastern Europe and North America. In Africa, there has been a positive growth change of 0.28%, with Q4 2022 growth at 2.60% compared to 2.32% in Q3 2022. North America experienced a slight increase of 0.02%, with growth rates of 0.56% and 0.54% in Q4 and Q3, respectively. However, other American regions saw a decline of 0.52% in growth, with Q4 2022 at 1.69% and Q3 2022 at 2.21%.
The most prominent slowdown in growth was in Asia. East Asia's growth decreased by 0.72%, from 2.51% in Q3 to 1.80% in Q4. Other Asian regions faced a decline of 0.78%, with growth dropping from 2.61% in Q3 to 1.83% in Q4. Eastern Europe experienced a positive growth change of 0.19%, with Q4 growth at 1.00% compared to Q3's 0.81%. Other European regions, however, faced a minor decline of 0.04%, with growth rates of 0.43% in Q4 and 0.47% in Q3. Lastly, in Oceania we recorded a negative growth change of 0.17%, with a -0.10% growth rate in Q4 2022 compared to 0.08% in Q3 2022, mainly due to the churn in Australia.
Africa and Asia Other continue to have the lowest fixed broadband penetration among population at 4.51% and 5.6% respectively, indicating potential for future expansion. Predictably, the two regions recorded the highest quarterly growth of 2.6% and 1.83% respectively. The markets of East Asia and America Other were the next in the league, with 1.8% and 1.69%, despite the former having the highest population penetration at 41%, suggesting the widespread adoption of fixed broadband services (Figures 6 and 7).
Eastern Europe had a 1.00% growth rate and a population penetration of 24.78%, while other European regions showed a slower growth rate of 0.43% and a high population penetration of 39.35%, indicating a mature market with limited growth opportunities. Lastly, Oceania witnessed a negative growth rate of -0.10% in Q4 2022, with a population penetration of 32.94%, suggesting a possible saturation of the market. Overall, the data reveals diverse trends in fixed broadband subscriber growth, with some regions having untapped potential for expansion, while others face saturation and limited growth prospects.
All the largest twenty broadband markets saw fixed broadband subscribers grow in Q4 2022, but in 14 of them the growth was slower than in the third quarter of 2022. Notably, India saw the most significant decrease in quarterly growth, with a 4.31% decline from 8.15% in Q3 to 3.85% in Q4. Brazil also experienced a substantial decline of 1.23%, dropping from 3.01% in Q3 to 1.78% in Q4. China's growth rate dipped by 0.81% from 2.76% to 1.95%.
The United States exhibited a modest increase of 0.05% in quarterly growth, from 0.45% in Q3 to 0.50% in Q4. Japan saw a more significant growth increase of 0.20%, rising from 0.44% to 0.64%. The United Kingdom experienced the highest increase in quarterly growth, with a 0.34% change, moving from 0.03% in Q3 to 0.36% in Q4.
Many other countries exhibited smaller changes in growth rates. For instance, Germany, the Republic of Korea, France, and Spain experienced declines in growth rates, while Italy, Thailand, and Indonesia observed slight increases. Overall, the data reveals diverse trends in fixed broadband subscriber growth among different countries, with some experiencing substantial changes in growth rates and others demonstrating more stable growth patterns.
Between Q3 2022 and Q4 2022, the share of FTTH/B connections in the total fixed broadband subscriptions went up by 0.62% and stood at 65.7%. Cable and ADSL broadband connections saw their market shares shrink further to 16.3% and 8.8% respectively. FTTx share stood at 6.8%. VDSL subscriber numbers grew in thirteen countries (including modest quarterly increase in the large VDSL markets of Turkey, Czech Republic, Greece and Belgium, for example), while they fell in at least nineteen other markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.
With fibre being a dominant technology, we looked at the growth of FTTH/B in the markets with at least 0.5m fibre broadband connections. Germany leads the list with a significant growth rate of 17.5%, as the incumbent Deutsche Telecom has leveraged its considerably expanded FTTH infrastructure, implementing proactive customer migration. Germany is followed closely by Peru with 16.2% and Argentina with 13.9% jump in fibre broadband subscribers. India, a rapidly developing market, showcases a notable growth rate of 12.3%, while the United Kingdom follows with a 10.9% increase in fibre broadband take-up as a result of fast paced rollout of fibre networks by multiple operators.
Other countries exhibit more moderate growth in fibre broadband subscribers. Ireland and Pakistan show growth rates of 8.1% and 7.1%, respectively. Italy, Nepal, and Colombia also experience positive growth, with rates ranging from 6.4% to 5.8%. Additionally, countries such as France, South Africa, Kenya, Poland, and Turkey demonstrate growth rates between 4.9% and 5.6%, indicating a steady expansion of fibre broadband services in these regions.
It will be interesting to see whether more consumers will be inclined to switch to fibre broadband offerings as the world economies face economic slowdown and inflation.
In terms of FTTH/B broadband net additions in Q4 2022, China continued to maintain a significant lead with 11 million while Brazil and India added just over a million. Argentina is back in the top ten league, having replaced Mexico this quarter.
Globally, between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022, the number of copper lines fell by 8.9%, while FTTH/B connections increased by 11.9% (Figure 11), reflecting a move away from older and slower technology in favour of more advanced options. Cable broadband showed modest growth at 1%, while FTTx experienced a slight decline of -0.9%, which suggests a preference for the more direct fibre solutions.
Satellite broadband exhibited a healthy growth rate of 5.8%, which could be attributed to the increasing demand for connectivity in remote or underserved areas where traditional broadband infrastructure is not feasible. For example, in the UK Starlink satellite broadband is being trialled in the remote areas of Northern England and Wales while OneWeb will be commissioned to provide high speed broadband to 35,000 ‘most remote properties’.
Meanwhile, wireless broadband demonstrated a modest growth rate of 2.1%, indicating its continued relevance in similarly difficult to reach areas.
Top broadband countries
The top ten countries by fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged (Figure 12). As of Q4 2022, China started approaching 0.6 billion fixed broadband subscribers, having added 11.3 million in the quarter. Also, the country is approaching 1.1 billion 5G subscribers, with the service being used by 77% of the population.
Overall, the latest fixed broadband subscriber data reveals a clear trend towards advanced, high-speed broadband solutions like FTTH/B, while older technologies such as copper-based broadband (ADSL and even FTTx) are experiencing decline, suggesting that the broadband landscape is continuously evolving to meet the growing demand for faster and more reliable connectivity.
 It is possible there will be restatements in the coming quarter/s and single period data should be viewed in that light.  We are currently attempting to clarify with the Chinese government agencies the methodology of counting fixed broadband subscriptions / households.  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’.