Broadband Subscribers: More Wireless, More From Developing Nations

Carl Weinschenk
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Top 10 Wireless Predictions for 2011

The folks at Point Topic must be good. Very good. If they weren't, they wouldn't be able to say precisely how many broadband subscribers there were in the world at a particular point in time. Well, they did. According to the firm, there were 508,761,837 at the third quarter of 2010.

The very strange level of specificity aside, the Point Topic study is worthy of note because of the growth trends that it points out. The firm says that the number was 6.7 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago. The release says that more than 14.3 million lines were added during the third quarter itself, which was 2.88 percent more than the second quarter.

The most interesting part of the release is data on where the growth is coming from. The U.S. and China lead in total additions, but developing, non-North American/Western European countries are adding subscribers at a higher rate. China and India, the release says, had their second best quarters ever. Russia, Vietnam, Ukraine and the Philippines all increased their broadband penetration by greater than 20 percent during the past year. British site ISP Review reproduced Point Topic graphics, one of which highlighted growth patterns by country.

Another interesting-though not as amusing-press release from OECD says that more than 62 percent of broadband subscribers in the U.S. are wireless. The raw numbers, the firm says, are 137 million wireless and 83 million wired. The release acknowledges that there is overlap between the two types of broadband subscribers.

The release goes more in depth about the wireless numbers. The U.S. has the most wireless broadband subscribers-it ranks ninth in percentage, with 44.4 percent. The number pales in comparison with other nations. Korea-the release didn't indicate North or South, though the measure almost certainly is South-led at 95 percent, Sweden had 75.6 percent, Japan had 75.3 percent and Norway had 72.8 percent. Poland is the closest to the United States at 48.3 percent. The release links to three interesting charts highlighting raw numbers of wireless subscribers, raw numbers of wired subscribers and percentages of wireless broadband penetration.

Taken together, the two studies make a couple of very important points. They are somewhat obvious, but should be validated in any case. The first is that broadband is making strong gains beyond the developed nations, which may be tapping out a bit. The other important, but not shocking, conclusion is that wireless broadband is hot.

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