Fiber-optic broadband access networks showed a strong growth in subscribers served last year, according to the Broadband Forum and market research firm Point Topic. Fiber to the node/cabinet (FTTN/FTTC, which Broadband Forum denotes as FTTx) using VDSL or VDSL2 saw the largest growth in subscribers among the broadband access technologies tracked, with fiber to the home (FTTH) right behind.
Overall, the number of broadband subscribers grew 8.6% in 2012 to reach 643,770,042. FTTx subscriber numbers jumped 27.5% for the year, to 114,440,536. FTTH subscribers reached 19,308,751, a 20.3% increase.
However, both fiber-based access technologies trail legacy DSL and cable modem for the top spots. DSL networks served 366.7 million subscribers (up 3.6%) and cable modem infrastructure served 123.6 million (up 7.2%) worldwide. Combined, however, fiber access now sits at Number 2.
Fixed wireless, including satellite, supported 10,811,152 at year’s end, an increase of 12%.
“Demand for bandwidth can be satisfied by FTTx solutions, particularly in combination with vectoring, bonding, and other incremental VDSL2 improvements so operators will continue to maximize the lifetime of their existing assets,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic.
Looking regionally, China remained the largest consumer of broadband, with subscriber numbers growing 15% year over year. However, Brazil (17.96%), India (14.1%), and Russia (12.81%) saw significant jumps in broadband subscriber numbers.
In the U.S., which is the second largest broadband market behind China, subscriber totals grew 3.89% to 95,196,150.
“These are promising figures as they highlight the ongoing strength of the broadband market,” commented Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum. “We are increasingly witnessing a shift in technology, particularly to fiber, as consumer habits evolve and the demand for higher bandwidths increases.”