Broadband and IPTV growth spiked to a high in 2011, with rates higher than at any time in the last five years, according to year-end figures published by the Broadband Forum, a nonprofit industry organization focused on engineering smarter and faster broadband connections.

Overall, broadband growth is estimated at 65,493,596 lines, bringing the global total to 597,322,636 — a quarterly increase of 2.6 percent and an annual growth rate of 12.3 percent.

The figures, prepared for the Broadband Forum by broadband industry analysts Point Topic, also highlight the strongest ever quarter of growth in IPTV which is today’s most demanding application for high speed broadband.

"This is an exciting return to higher growth figures and points to a strengthening in the broadband market," comments Robin Mersh, CEO at the Broadband Forum. "With a number of active new markets coming online and standards based deployments becoming common, we are seeing broadband move into the daily lives of more and more people the world over. A great example of this is the exceptional growth in some key Eastern European markets, such as Russia, Poland and the Ukraine."

Russia proved to be a peak performer in 2011 in both broadband and IPTV figures, with more than 36-percent growth in broadband and more than doubling its IPTV subscribers from 495,500 to 1,145,000 in just one year.

With 254,721,342 broadband subscriber lines at the end of 2011, Asia is the biggest region overall, though its growth was slower in percentage terms during the last quarter than earlier in the year. The sheer size of the market means that it continues to take marketshare, even when growth is lower. The region added 7,882,421 subscribers in 4Q11, a rate of 3.2 percent in the quarter, representing annual growth of 16.4 percent.

Hybrid Fiber/DSL Solutions?

In terms of technology developments, DSL – with 60.8 percent of the overall market share – continues to be the dominant broadband technology, although it is beginning to lose ground to other access technologies. The expectation is for hybrid fiber/DSL deployment solutions to continue to grow, delivering broadband for more and more subscribers.

These hybrid fiber/DSL deployments have been able to deliver significantly more bandwidth to consumers while allowing efficient re-use of existing infrastructure. Fiber to the Home (FTTH) is increasing in appeal, and this is likely to accelerate as availability increases, but Point Topic reports its expectation is that the hybrid fiber access solution will be the fastest-growing for the next five years. The combined market share for FTTH and FTTx/hybrid technologies has again grown from 16 percent in 3Q11 to 16.7 percent at the end of 2011, encroaching on cable’s marketshare, which has dropped to 19.4 percent.

What About IPTV?

 ?IPTV’s best quarter ever saw net additions of 3.68 million to finish 2011 strong with more than 58.2 million IPTV subscribers worldwide. Though Europe still holds the top regional spot, China is the fastest-growing country with more than 12 million subscribers, outstripping France for the top spot in the Top Ten IPTV countries worldwide.

"China will continue to dominate the top of the charts from now on. This is a market with greater headroom, more demand and overall more potential than anywhere else," explains Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson. "Outside the Top 10, the prime movers are Malaysia, Vietnam and Belarus. There are a number of conditions that have to be in place for IPTV adoption to be significant. The availability of enough consistent bandwidth tops the list but pricing needs to be right for the consumer as well. Once those metrics are at certain levels, you start to see real growth."

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