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Quest for the Next Wave of Broadband Growth

Where's the primary opportunity of new consumer demand for broadband services? According to the latest market study by Informa, global fixed-broadband subscription numbers will reach half a billion this year, driven by continued growth in the emerging markets.

Although the fixed-broadband markets of many developed countries are saturated, tens of millions of homes in China and India are still without broadband. These under-served markets are poised to drive yet another wave of broadband growth -- creating opportunities for service providers and equipment vendors.

"Overall the number of net new fixed-broadband subscriptions grew in 2009 to over 480 million, largely as a result of accelerating growth in emerging markets and we expect this number to reach 500 million this year. China, Russia, Mexico, India and Vietnam were among the countries that recorded the greatest leaps in fixed-broadband subscription numbers last year," said Rob Gallagher, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

China extended its broadband subscriber lead over the U.S., and Russia overtook Italy to claim the number eight spot. India, Mexico, Turkey, the Ukraine and Vietnam look set to also grow strongly, provided that current trends continue.

Seven of the top 20 countries -- by fixed-broadband subscription count -- at the end of September 2009 could be classified as emerging markets. The number of net additions in each of these countries was up substantially year-on-year, while those of the world's largest developed markets were either flat or down.

"Given that about four out of five households do not have broadband in these markets, there is still much room for growth. We forecast that these under-served markets will contribute the bulk of the next 100 million subscriptions by 2014," concludes Gallagher.

All regions recorded increases in fixed-broadband household penetration of between three and five percentage points in the first half of 2009 -- except Africa, because of problems such as poor fixed-line infrastructure and very low income levels.

Many of the fastest-growing markets -- relative to their size -- were in the Middle East, despite the high levels of fixed-broadband household penetration.

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