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December 12, 2023

2023 Broadband Wrap Up

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Author:
Michael Philpott, Research Director, Digital Consumer Services
Alzbeta Fellenbaum, Principal Analyst, 5G & Broadband Pricing and strategy

 

The fixed broadband industry is one of the most important industries in the world, connecting 3.4bn people, 1.3bn households, and more than 220million business premises by the end of 2023. In subscription revenues alone, the industry will have generated global revenues of $327bn in 2023, with a global subscription and revenue growth of 6% and 5% respectively over the year. However, the benefits of broadband spread far beyond telecommunication subscription revenues. Broadband networks support a vast range of industries from manufacturing to health institutions to educational facilities, as well as supporting more social aspects of life such as well-being and social equality. Although difficult to fully quantify, the benefits that broadband brings in these areas are equally, if not more, important than those that can be directly monetized.

In this blog Omdia summarizes some of the most important events that have shaped this industry in 2023.

Ooredoo announces the first 50Gbps residential service

In September Ooredoo, Qatar, announced a world first with the launch of a 50Gbps-capable fiber-based access connection for consumers. Download speed is a key metric for the broadband industry, supporting the development of the next-generation Internet applications such as ultra-high definition video services, XR, and glasses-free 3D content – the latter of which could require speeds of 5-6Gbps per session.

Although 50Gbps services are on the extreme side for residential services today, Omdia’s data shows that there are more than 450 service providers around the world offering gigabit services, and more than 55 offering multi-gigabit. As of the end of 2023 there will be 228 million consumer-grade gigabit broadband subscriptions, making up 19% of the consumer broadband market. The World Broadband Association has suggested reference bandwidths of 25-100Gbps for the consumer market in the 2030 timeframe.

Comcast launches world’s first DOCSIS 4.0 technology

Albeit not with the same eye-catching speeds as Ooredoo, Comcast announced an important first for the cable broadband industry with the launch of DOCSIS 4.0. Based on this rollout Comcast will introduce a new portfolio of symmetrical products – initially up to 2Mbps but with the potential to increase to 10Mbps - for residential customers. Comcast has begun rolling out DOCSIS 4.0 to select neighborhoods in Colorado Springs, CO, followed by Philadelphia, PA and Atlanta, GA and plans to deploy the new standard across its entire HFC network footprint over time. With the symmetrical speed capability, DOCSIS 4.0 enables cable broadband providers to compete with fiber-to-the-premise service providers that have launched symmetrical, multi-gigabit speeds in recent years.

The rise of the satellites

Advanced markets may be talking about multi-gigabit speeds, but at the other end of the scale there are still 16% of households that have no personal Internet connectivity of any kind, and 45% that do not have access to fixed-broadband connectivity. This equates to 58% of the population that doesn’t have a home fixed-broadband service. These households are not constrained to developing markets. Lack of access in rural areas, service affordability, and digital literacy are still issues that impact all countries, regardless of their broadband status, albeit the scale of the issues in developing markets can be far larger.

Although not a fix to all of the above issues, satellite technology can certainly help by providing broadband access in even the hardest to reach areas of the world. Satellite broadband technology is not new, but 2023 was certainly a big year for the technology, which had been revived by the rise of the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite systems. The list of announcements includes:

  • Amazon launched its first two protype satellites for its Project Kuiper, an initiative that could see more than 3,200 satellites manufactured and deployed over the next six years.
  • Following an 18th successful launch, OneWeb completed the world’s first LEO broadband constellation reaching 618 satellites, more than enough to provide high-speed internet access worldwide.
  • In September, Starlink reached a new subscription milestone of 2m users and a record user growth of 3.6k new daily subscribers.

The US goes large

On the theme of broadband equity, in June, the US government announced State allocations for a $42.45bn high-speed Internet grant program, known as the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, as part of its Investing in America Agenda. Nineteen states received more than $1 billion each in the final allocation.

Since the COVID pandemic, governments around the world have been increasing their national broadband plan targets and investment funds to speed up the role out of high-quality fixed broadband access technology. The funds in the US will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that all US citizens have access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet services. Once all deployment goals are met, any remaining funds will be used to pursue eligible access, adoption, and equity related uses.

Latency management comes to the fore

Broadband speed may be important, but for many of today’s modern applications, low and consistent latency is as important for a quality experience. Managing latency is so important to application quality of experience (QoE), it is expected that it could create a number of new monetization opportunities for broadband service providers, albeit exact business models are still being worked out. Over the year the number of services and service bundles where latency management is a key element has continued to increase and Comcast in the US also launched what is claimed to be the first low latency DOCSIS (LLD) field trials in collaboration with Apple, Nvidia and Valve.

The WBBA launched inaugural Broadband and Cloud Development Index

At this year’s Broadband Development Congress, at Network X, the World Broadband Association (WBBA) revealed the findings from its inaugural Broadband and Cloud Development Index (BCDI). Tracking the development of the broadband and cloud markets across 21 countries from five continents, representing over half of the world’s population and over three-quarters of global GDP, the report is designed to identify best-in-class performance at country level, highlighting the most critical drivers for the continued development of the sector and making clear the investment case for broadband and cloud infrastructure.

 

Omdia Commissioned Research

This piece of research was commissioned by the World Broadband Association.

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