RealTime IT News

China's Broadband Growth Expected to Top U.S.

At the rate it's going, China will next year surpass the U.S. in new broadband access lines, according to research published by telecommunications research firm Point-Topic Friday.

The figures from the U.K.-based firm's third-quarter report on broadband statistics show the U.S. retained its broadband line growth crown for the first nine months of 2005, with 40.9 million lines added, compared to China's 35 million. Japan ranked third with 20.9 million high-speed lines added.

China, however, added 3.6 million lines in the third quarter of 2005, the report notes, compared to the United States' 2.7 million lines. The U.K. was the third-largest with 900,000 lines.

"At current rates China will overtake the U.S. in [the fourth quarter of 2006] as the largest broadband country in the world," the Point-Topic note states.

Overall the broadband market worldwide expanded the total number of new lines by 37.9 million in the first nine months of 2005.

Meanwhile, worldwide DSL line growth is 28.8 percent compared to cable's 17.9 percent; the DSL share of world broadband lines is now up to 65.9 percent compared to 34.1 percent from cable and other broadband access methods such as wireless or satellite service.

In the U.S., DSL providers added more than 1.38 million lines in the third quarter of 2005, an 8.7 percent increase, and some 90,000 more than the cable industry, which tallied 5.5 percent growth.

According to the Point-Topic report, the Middle East and Africa are the fastest growing DSL regions on the planet, with installed lines growing 20 percent in the third quarter of 2005.

In Asia, China leads the DSL growth market on the continent with the addition of 3.7 million DSL lines. Officials said Southeast Asia's 12.9 percent growth is the primary result of China's DSL uptake.

The Asia-Pacific region is finally showing signs of maturity and subsequent decline in DSL line growth. Once the hotspot for DSL growth, countries such as Japan, Singapore and Taiwan appear to be maturing, while South Korea is flatlining (though it's the only country with more than 25 people per 100 in adoption).

In the U.S., however, cable is still king. While DSL subscriber growth in the third quarter of 2005 hit 8.7 percent, higher than cable broadband's 5.8 percent, it still lags behind cable.

Despite the growth broadband subscribers at cable operators such as Time Warner Cable , Comcast and Cox Communications still have a comfortable lead at 23.5 million.

DSL from carriers such as Verizon Communications and AT&T (the former SBC), on the other hand, have 17.3 million customers.

In the DSL industry AT&T (6.5 million), Verizon (4.5 million) and Bell South (2.7 million) lead the pack; Comcast (8.1 million), Time Warner Cable (4.5 million) and Cox (3 million) lead among cable operators. Numbers are current as of June 30.

According to Point-Topic, DSL has maintained the growth rate lead for the past nine quarters. Since the third quarter of 2003 DSL has had an average growth rate of 9.8 percent while cable has grown at a smaller 6.5 percent average growth rate.