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February 20, 2013

Fiber to Home Grows, DSL Possibly Grows Faster



By Gary Kim
Contributing Editor



As broadband subscribers approach 635 million globally, digital subscriber line (DSL) continues to be the access medium with the highest installed base. Some might argue that growth rates for fiber to customer connections are higher, but that’s debatable.

The growth of fiber network connections is one thing, but customers added using those connections is another. At least in net customer additions, it still appears that DSL is adding customers at a higher rate. 

Some may suggest new customers in China alone, using DSL, would tip the scales, as far as customer net additions.

Still, the latest figures published by the Broadband Forum and prepared by broadband industry analysts Point Topic indicate that hybrid fiber access (FTTx) has experienced the highest growth, among fiber to customer platforms, in 2012. 

Of the 54 million new broadband subscribers added in the year leading up to the third quarter of 2012, 26 million are reached by fiber (48 percent), the Broadband Forum (News - Alert) says. Overall, global fiber deployments have now passed cable subscriptions to account for 19.7 percent of the total broadband market.

Altogether, there now are about 635 million fixed broadband subscribers, and perhaps 1.5 billion households using fixed broadband, using all fixed network technologies, Point Topic says. 

Broadband growth during the third quarter 2012 is estimated at over 12 million lines, according to Oliver Johnson, Point Topic CEO.

Fixed Network Subscribers

Technology

    Q3 2011

    Q4 2011

    Q1 2012

    Q2 2012

    Q3 2012

Fiber

    99,148,740

    106,146,809

    112,319,534

    117,380,402

    125,054,374

Copper

    350,084,349

    353,335,639

    359,560,708

    364,516,750

    366,962,524

Cable

    112,141,446

    114,799,009

    117,046,090

    119,188,313

    121,008,163

Other

    19,108,390

    19,821,067

    20,639,885

    21,201,091

    21,748,794

Source (News - Alert): Point Topic, Q3 2012

Of course, many would argue that as valuable as fiber access is, copper access also keeps getting better. The fastest-growing technology for wired broadband, globally, is surely still DSL.

DSL has accounted for 70 percent of all broadband connections globally, according to Point Topic. And supporters say new technologies, including vectoring, will allow DSL speeds to keep increasing, just as cable modem and fiber-to-home speeds keep rising.




Edited by Braden Becker
 
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