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Worldwide Broadband Statistics for Q1 2006

According to Point Topic, the Asia-Pacific region still claims -- by far -- the largest share of all broadband lines, accounting for 40 percent of the world�s 229 million broadband lines in Q1 2006. But despite impressive growth rates in China, India and Vietnam, its majority share is under constant threat from buoyant broadband markets in the countries of Eastern and Central European as well as Northern Africa.

China once again pulled ahead of the USA. In Q4 2005, both countries acquired 2.5 million new subscribers, but Q1 2006 saw the gap re-established, with China adding 3.7 million and the USA 3.3 million. India has not yet reached these heights, nonetheless its growth rate is striking. In Q1 2006, broadband subscribers grew by 56.8 percent to pass the one million threshold, whereas DSL growth carried mainly by (Bharti and BSNL) contributed the lion share of net additions - 0.5 million.

In Western Europe, 2006 began as it had ended - well almost. Owing to the success of local loop unbundling (LLU) during the second half of 2005, Germany retained the lead. Deutsche Telekom continues driving Germany�s broadband market with quarterly growth rates of between 8 and 9 percent. Slowly, but with a certain inevitability, the UK managed a draw with France in this quarter. Both countries have now 10.8 million broadband subscribers.

In keeping with globalisation, around 15 companies and groups contributed 50 percent of all the broadband net additions in Q1 2006. China Telecom came top, followed by the Deutsche Telekom Group. This ranking includes only direct line access sold to subscribers and third party ISPs. Consequently, France Telecom and its various brands which resell other incumbents offers ranks lower than Deutsche Telekom (DT) Group, despite its subscriber net additions outpaces that of DT Group.

Although still lightweights considering their overall contribution to the world�s broadband subscribers (a mere 5 percent), Eastern Europe and the MEA regions (Middle East and Africa) are again out to challenge that perception of few lines and low impact.

Both regions grew again by around 14 percent in Q1 2006. Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria showed impressive growth rates of between 147 percent and 186 percent year-on-year. They all kept their momentum in Q1 2006, gaining subscribers considerably faster than the world average of 7.7 percent. As a net result, Estonia and Slovenia have come close to breaking into the lower ranks of Western European countries, when it comes to the penetration of broadband services by population. The East-West divide persists. However, consistent quarterly growth gives rise to the hope that the gap will have narrowed considerably by end-2006.

While South Korea can no longer lay claim to the highest broadband population penetration in the world, having been overtaken by the Netherlands, Denmark and Iceland in Q4 2005, its broadband market is all gearing up for technology substitution. Fast is no longer fast enough. Subscribers to FTTx services here have grown by 17.9 percent in Q1 2006, increasing their market share to 15.2 percent. At the same time, the national DSL market experienced an 1.6 percent loss of subscribers. Cable modem services fared slightly better with a gain of just over 1.9 percent.

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