Fiber-optic broadband gains in U.S.

Telcos' share increases as DSL is replaced

Almost 620 million subscribers of cablers and telcos will have Internet broadband service at the end of this year, up 7.3% from 2011, according to ABI Research. That equals more than one-third of the total households on the planet.

But while DSL, cable and fiber-optic providers have all experienced growth, DSL may be losing out, as customers upgrade to faster options. ABI says that by the end of 2012, DSL’s global market share is likely to decline by one percentage point from 2011’s 64%. Fiber-optic services, which are provided mainly by telcos, will take that share, and slightly more.

North America has the highest fixed broadband penetration rate, with 72.4% of households subscribing. That large base of existing subscribers means somewhat slower growth for North American providers. The majority of the region’s operators grew about 0.8% from the end of 2012’s first quarter to the end of the second quarter. ABI notes that the exception was cabler Cox Communications, which saw about 3% growth.

The researcher estimates that overall, North American fiber-optic growth is likely to be 6.4% in 2012, far outpacing cable’s 2.2%. But cable still reigns, with a projected North American broadband subscriber base of 55.2 million by the end of this year against 8.1 million for fiber-optic providers.