Asia fuels world broadband growth

Asia-Pacific markets continue to drive global broadband growth, with the region’s broadband connections jumping by a third last year compared to a global increase of just 4%.

Asian customers now account for 45% of all broadband connections, while China has overtaken the US to become the biggest market.

New figures released Tuesday by the Broadband Forum and Point Topic at CommunicAsia revealed that broadband lines now top 429.2 million globally as of the end of Q1 2009.

Asia-Pac accounted for almost 163 million broadband lines, but collectively grew faster than other regions except for Latin America, which just edged out Asia at 36% year-on-year growth.

South and East Asia accounted for much of the Asia-Pac growth, with India registering 68.5% growth and China 24%. China is also now the world’s biggest broadband market with just over 88 million lines, beating out former leader the US by 4 million lines.

Japan is third on the list with 30.6 million lines, although market growth was just over 6% for the period. South Korea ranks seventh.

Emerging markets like Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia also saw high broadband growth at 49%, 61% and 142%, respectively.

However, Indonesia’s broadband growth in Q1 2009 shrank almost 4.5% quarter on quarter, although it was the only Asian market besides Taiwan (-0.15%) to see a drop in broadband subscribers.

Even so, said Broadband Forum COO Robin Mersh, the overall figures were impressive given the current economic environment.

“The figure of 4% global growth is pleasing when you see all of the headlines about recession,” Mersh said at a press conference. “The fact that we still managed to hit the numbers we expected to hit is impressive.”

Mersh also said the growth figures indicated that broadband has become a must-have technology.

“The numbers and the lack of churn show that it really is getting to the point where broadband is a necessity and not a luxury that people will drop when times get tough,” he said.

The same study also released figures on IPTV, with Asia racking up 7 million IPTV subscribers in Q1, second only to Western Europe at 11.3 million.

South and East Asia also saw massive IPTV growth at 91%, compared to just 14.7% for the rest of the region, although Eastern Europe and Latin America saw triple-digit growth. South Korea was the only Asian market to see negative growth quarter-on-quarter (-1.7%) due to customer rationalization, Mersh said.

The technology breakdown held few surprises, with DSL still the dominant access technology at 64.6%. However, Mersh said, further breakdown reveals that ADSL2+ and FTTN + VDSL2 saw the strongest growth at 13.3% and 12.8%, respectively. Mersh added that VDSL2 is expected to see even more rapid deployment in the next 12 months.