Copper rapidly losing ground to fibre in global broadband figures


news IT market intelligence provider Point Topic has released new figures revealing that the numbers of people using fixed broadband globally climbed in the third quarter of 2015, with the numbers using copper-based technologies to connect taking a sharp downturn and fibre rapidly on the way up.

Overall, 738 million premises globally now have fixed broadband connections, with fibre-based (FTTH) systems being responsible for much of that rise.

Quarterly growth of fixed broadband subscribers picked up by 1.36% compared both to Q2 2015 and Q3 2014, the firm said. Furthermore, it was the second-highest figure in the last six quarters, with a peak to over 740 million in Q1 2014 being an exception.

Notably, it is the second quarter in succession that FTTH has dominated as the most popular choice for broadband access, with levels exceeding those of end-to-end copper subscribers globally. From Q3 2014 to Q3 2015, FTTH subscriptions surged by 57% with FTTx (mixed fibre formats) also climbing 14.4%.

However, there was a 15% decline in end-to-end copper connections over the same period – a decline that is accelerating, according to Point Topic. People using satellite connections have also increased (10%), as did those using wireless with 17.1%

Regionally, growth this quarter was driven mostly by parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The nation with the greatest impact on the rise in FTTH take-up is once again China, which has over 200 million subscribers overall. However, the Americas also saw their fibre share increase in Q3 2015, mainly down to the US and Canada.

The US became only the second country to have exceeded 100 million broadband connections in Q3 – the last quarter for which figures are available – and it will be some time before lower-ranking countries are able to reach the same figure.

Japan and Germany are in third and fourth place, respectively, both with less than 50 million subscribers. Moving downwards, France, the Russian Federation, the UK, Brazil, South Korea and India complete the bottom portion of the top 10 broadband-using nations.


  1. Notably, it is the second quarter in succession that FTTH has dominated as the most popular choice for broadband access, with levels exceeding those of end-to-end copper subscribers globally.

    *Sighs* We were about to leading leading the world, now we are watching the rest of the world pass us by. :-(

    • Didn’t the announcement of the NBN and plans for 93% FTTP bump us up to 6th place in the world? Then in the last two years we’ve fallen to 40somethingth…

      • No, because to get anywhere near to 6th place in the world 93% of Australian residences have to be actually connected to FTTP and using it.

        The latest NBN Corporate plan indicated this was not going to happen until 2026-2028.

  2. Too bad the Liberals are too stupid to see this. A real shame because this country was about to have something good but was taken away by moronic politicians focussed on costs rather than benefits.

    • Stupid? No. Ideological to the point of allowing the waste of tens of Billions of Dollars: Absolutely.

    • It is purely political…They actually are wasting far MORE money with the copper (close to double or triple if you include lost revenue growth).

      • Weren’t they planning on selling it down the track. Good luck with that finding a buyer for a copper based network.

  3. “Something something FTTN CPP something something private enterprise”

    – Any of the Liberal supporters who are sure to turn up.

    • You missed one

      Something something WIRELESS IS THE FUTURE
      Something something iPad

      • Some more sane friends of mine (than the ones who touted LTE as saviour) are saying that 5G (which I know nothing about yet apart from some seamless wifi switching built into it?) will actually be more disruptive and a more viable fixed line replacement than all the wireless tech before it. Is there any reason why 5G will nullify the contention (is that the term when its wireless tech we are talking about, I dunno!) problems that slow LTE to a crawl in places like the States where data caps are more generous ?

  4. It wont matter what the stats say or the facts, this government have dug their heels in and won’t listen any more. The only way for Australian comms to move forward is to vote this government out and we all know that.

  5. At least we can tell the Cu Evangelists us fibre fanboi’s are in the majority and growing world wide! ;)

    • You can tell them but they wont listen they will argue against the facts, the coalition and their shrill inhabit a different world than we do, the world of the ostrich, their heads are so far up their arseholes.

    Fibre race: With on-demand services increasingly common in Western homes,
    service providers will strive to supply ever faster broadband. “Gigabit” speeds
    struggle to be delivered along traditional copper telephone wiring, however,
    so many utilities will look to roll out gigabit fibre broadband technology. Major
    upgrades of telecoms infrastructure are coming.”

    (From: “INDUSTRIES IN 2016: A special report from The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd” . Page 34)

  7. Wow we’ve fallen so far. Copper is old and outdated just like the entire Liberal party.
    Normally I would be sad but lucky for Adelaide one company is installing fixed wireless. In a few weeks ill have 30MB/5MB and never have to deal with dirty Telstra and copper ever again. I hope the NBN gets swamped with so much competition. ISP’s should roll out their own network if they can.

  8. Are you sure? Having been to China last year it would be surprising if 1/6th of its population had FTTH. Time to google.

    From the upcoming “China FTTH Forum” website they’re hoping for 200m FTTx users in 2017. That’s all fibre, majority not FTTH (as in most markets). Wireless also huge in China.

    xDSL is in decline, fibre pushing closer to the end user. However the majority of last mile connections not utilising fibre to the home, all for the same reason; cost, revenue captured more cheaply using alternatives. FTTH big for greenfields (mandated in China).

  9. I am in Vietnam on the outskirts of the 4th largest city – Like being in Perth.

    We have two optical fibre internet connections. Both run equally well to my NBN fibre in Brunswick Melbourne Australia. One is with VNPT (Vietnam’s Telstra) and the other is with Viettel.

    The advantage I get with two connections is diverse international routing. They are run totally separately. Despite having this mission critical setup I have only swapped over from one network to the other twice in a few months.

    Oh – and the unlimited deals I have cost $10-$12 per month.

    Most of the city is covered in both fibre networks and some of the city is covered by upto 3 more companies’ fibre connections. You can also get cable (I didn’t want it with 3mb/s back channel) or outdated copper -but no one is getting new connections on the copper now, they’re just slowly migrating to fibre and all the new connections are on fibre.

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