Household broadband penetration to boom despite global recession

28 Sep 2009

Broadband penetration amongst Irish households is set to grow from 54pc today to 63pc in 2013. The country will still be trailing behind more advanced broadband nations like Singapore, the US, Taiwan, France and Germany.

Ireland sits near the bottom of a list of 23 countries lead by South Korea, the Netherlands and Denmark in terms of broadband penetration, a global survey by Gartner suggests.

By 2013, possibly taking into account investment in fibre and next-generation access (NGA), the country will move up the list to overtake Sweden, Finland and Spain.

South Korea boasts the deepest broadband penetration in the world, with 86pc of households using the technology, followed by the Netherlands with 80pc and Denmark with 75pc.

By 2013, the Top 3 will consist of South Korea at 93pc, the Netherlands at 88pc and Canada at 81pc.

Gartner says that despite the global economic downturn, the number of household broadband connections continues to grow robustly, and one in five households worldwide will have a fixed broadband connection in the home by the end of 2009.

A total of 422 million households will have a fixed broadband connection in the home in 2009, up from 382 million households in 2008, and the market will steadily grow with nearly 580 million households having a fixed broadband connection by 2013.

In Western Europe, 105 million households will have a fixed broadband connection in the home in 2009, up from 99 million households in 2008, and the market is expected to reach 116 million households by 2013.

“Consumers may be watching their household expenditure, but dropping their broadband connections is not on the top of their agendas as a way to reduce outgoings,” said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner.

“Multiple motivations are conspiring to keep broadband growth strong, such as PCs being more affordable, migration from dial-up, affordably priced broadband subscriptions, ageing populations requiring broadband connectivity, and even as a result of an economic boost from country-specific economic and broadband-specific stimulus plans,” Sabia said.

At the end of 2008, about 21 countries had broadband connections in at least 50pc of homes.

In many countries, the rates are much higher; the highest penetration being in South Korea at 86pc and the lowest being Indonesia at less than 1pc.

Although many mature markets will see a slowing down of broadband rates as connectivity reaches saturation, many emerging markets are still in the early stages of broadband deployment and will see rapid growth in adoption rates.

Gartner predicts that over the next five years, the emerging markets (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Latin American countries, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will collectively provide twice as many new consumer broadband connections as mature markets: 135 million vs 62 million connections, respectively.

Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) will account for 92 million (68pc) of the increased 135 million household broadband connections in the emerging markets, meaning that BRIC accounts for almost half (47pc) of the total global increase in connections. China takes first place in contributing the greatest number (62 million, or 46pc) of the 135 million new broadband connections in emerging markets.

Twenty seven million US households will make up a large share of new broadband connections in mature markets between 2008 and 2013, with Japan accounting for almost 10 million, Germany with 5 million and the UK with slightly more than 3 million connections.

However, despite the significant growth in connections in emerging markets, Gartner analysts said that households in emerging markets will continue to outnumber those in mature markets by 4-to-1. Consequently, it is unlikely that broadband household penetration in the emerging markets will catch up with mature markets within the next 10 years, and Gartner estimates the digital divide will remain in the 50-54pc range for the foreseeable future.

Gartner estimates that the worldwide consumer fixed voice, internet and broadband services market was worth US$372 billion in 2008 and that broadband access services supplied 27pc of that total. Broadband services will continue to be the growth engine in revenue, offsetting declining voice revenue and supplying almost 40pc of the US$347 billion total revenue in 2013.

“Broadband services represent the core of all fixed-line household communications services; hence, communications providers will be able to continue their reliance on broadband subscription revenue to offset revenue loss from other services in their portfolio offerings,” Sabia said.

“Equipment manufacturers (modems, routers and PCs) and providers of carrier infrastructure will benefit by having more connections to supply equipment and services, too. Government, medical and educational institutions alike will have alternative access to their customers via the household broadband connection,” Sabia added.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Broadband penetration in Irish households is set to grow from 54pc today to 63pc in 2013, a survey by Gartner shows.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years