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August 1, 2023

Broadband Investment Demands and Trends

Smart city and big data connection technology concept .
In the second in a series of four World Broadband Association (WBBA) Working Group webinars, Kevin Hasley, Vice President – Strategic Initiatives, Ookla, examines the key investment demands and trends impacting the global broadband market now.

The World Broadband Association’s (WBBA) mission is to unify broadband industry stakeholders to address and drive forward shared goals of maximizing the social and economic benefits of equality of broadband for all globally. Consequently, the association aims to create a culture of future-facing broadband cooperation and partnership across the industry. We work to achieve this sustained cross-industry dialogue via the efforts of our working groups, our whitepapers, and our webinars, which we encourage you to join.

As the Co-Chair of the WBBA Broadband Advocacy group, I can share that the working group is releasing a comprehensive whitepaper that highlights the demand for broadband investment as well as current investment trends. The purpose of the Broadband Investment Demands and Trends 2023 whitepaper is to advocate for the broadband sector and to demonstrate the value of broadband in multiple areas and to multiple stakeholders.

Via this new whitepaper, we aim to demonstrate how the demand for broadband is evolving and how it will continue to evolve in the future. The whitepaper also assesses the supply side of broadband and looks at the WBBA’s Next-Generation Broadband Roadmap.

Broadband Investment Demands and Trends 2023 considers the lessons that different stakeholders can learn from the evolution of broadband network capabilities. The whitepaper looks at investment in broadband from several different perspectives, for example, from the point of view of governments, investors and the financial community, and operators. It also offers a list for these different bodies to consider regarding issues around broadband investment and provides recommendations and guidance on best practice.

Key findings from the whitepaper include:

  • Stakeholders need to be aware of how quickly broadband demand is evolving. Broadband speeds and other critical metrics such as latency and reliability have improved, and this is correlated with the increase in fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) coverage in different countries.
  • Broadband demand is likely to continue to evolve over the coming years as new applications become more common and the number of connected devices continues to grow.
  • The supply side of broadband also continues to rapidly evolve, reflecting, for example, continuing innovation in Passive Optical Network (PON) FTTP networks. However, the evolution of broadband networks is very wide-ranging and encompasses several other dimensions such as sensing capabilities, as well as trustworthy and green characteristics.
  • Stakeholders must keep pace with these enhancements in broadband supply characteristics. For instance, when setting forward-looking targets for broadband speed coverage and adoption, governments and policymakers must be aware of the rapid evolution of network performance.
  • Governments must understand the means by which they can shape the broadband market through policy and regulation. In addition, there is a wealth of options for governments in how they seek to fund broadband rollout in underserved areas.
  • Investors need to be aware of the specific nature of investing in fiber broadband access networks. This includes understanding the very long asset life of such networks as well as ways to reduce rollout risks, such as demand aggregation.

Any discussion of the value of broadband must analyze the economic benefits that better quality broadband can deliver. Broadband access is important because industries that use it can derive additional revenue or cost savings from its use. Whole industries can benefit from the digital transformation that better quality broadband brings. In addition to the clear economic benefits that result from the deployment and take-up of next-generation broadband access, there are wider societal benefits of broadband. Broadband is an enabler of home working and the social benefits that this can deliver such as increased leisure and family time.

Kevin Hasley co-chairs the WBBA Broadband Advocacy group with Longjie Xu, Senior Technical Architect, China Telecom. Join Kevin Hasley and Longjie Xu for the WBBA webinar ‘Broadband investment: how to successfully overcome the barriers’ on Tuesday 22 August, alongside industry experts from Omdia and Huawei.

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