Global broadband nears 500m
From Colin Mann at the IPTV World Forum in London

With the addition of another 58 million lines of broadband in 2009, there are now more than 466.95 million broadband customers in the world according to statistics released by industry group the Broadband Forum. The report, prepared for the Forum by industry analysts Point Topic, shows a healthy annual growth percentage of 14.21 with strongest growth showing in fourth quarter.
The Forum said that IPTV had an excellent year, adding more than 10.8 million subscribers (compared to 9.4 million in 2008). By year-end 2009, there were more than 33 million IPTV customers- an annual increase of 47 per cent. Each quarter was stronger in 2009 than its corresponding 2008 quarter, and fourth quarter posted the strongest growth at 11.
This steady IPTV growth provided a significant addition to operators’ ARPU as many regions focused on enhanced service bundles. The growth was rapid in almost all markets with some countries more than doubling their IPTV subscribers during 2009.
The Asian market showed the strongest growth with China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam being the most significant contributors to Asia’s broadband dominance in 2009. Asia now accounts for 39 per cent of the broadband market and 32 per cent of the IPTV market. According to Oliver Johnson, Chief Analyst at Point Topic, as regulatory hurdles are cleared, many countries in the Asian region should be freed to market to and add more subscribers. "With South Korea looking strong and China building on its acceleration in the latter stages of 2009 the region could easily dominate IPTV growth in 2010," he suggested.
In the Americas, strong IPTV growth was witnessed. This region experienced the fastest IPTV growth in the world, with 58 per cent more subscribers in 2009 as compared to 2008. Both North and South American countries have started showing significant signs of IPTV adoption and the prospects for 2010 look good. The USA ended the year with more than 5.6 million IPTV customers, growing by more than 60 per cent.
In the European region, the success of premium bundles and keen competition in Europe drove the take-up of IPTV, particularly in France. Point Topic estimates that there are over 8 million IPTV subscribers in France (up from 6.1 million in Q4 2009). That is equivalent to 42 per cent of France’s 19 million broadband lines. France, Germany, Russia, Italy and Spain all were in the top ten IPTV countries.
Europe now accounts for 30.6 per cent of the broadband market, serving more than 142.9 million customers by year end. There was a clear acceleration of subscriber growth, with strong numbers from all major European markets in the last quarter.
The Middle East & Africa (MEA) region experienced double digit broadband growth of 11.8 per cent, serving 13.7 million customers. Though significantly lower growth was reported in 2009 than 2008, the region reported the strongest quarterly growth of all regions in fourth quarter with a 3.3 per cent uptake. Recently initiating IPTV rollouts, MEA is just beginning to show growth. Although still early in its adoption cycle, the market looks set to accelerate in 2010 according to Point Topic.