Global broadband subscribers have now reached the significant milestone of 400 million, according to a report prepared for the Broadband Forum by industry analysts, Point Topic. This major industry achievement also coincides with a landmark for the Broadband Forum, which is now entering its 15th year.
This latest statistic is representative of the technological developments and increasing geographical spread of broadband over the last few years. Since its inception, broadband has morphed from simple internet access into triple play service delivery - and broadband is now an integral part of our lives, both at home and at work.
In 1998, there were just 57,200 broadband subscribers globally. Only a year later, this number had increased by nearly six times over to 280,890 subscribers worldwide. DSL quickly became the most popular choice of delivery. The past ten years has seen a 600,000 percent increase in the number of subscribers - 300 percent in the last 5 years alone - which now tops the 400 million mark.
Over the same period, access technology evolved to include fiber, which began in 2002 with 18,000 subscribers. Since then, fiber now delivers broadband services to over 45 million people across the globe.
Oliver Johnson, Senior Analyst with Point Topic, explains, "When Point Topic started researching broadband in 1998 it was still mostly in the technical trial stage. Getting to 400 million subscribers in the ten years since then, has been one of the fastest rollouts of a major new technology the world has ever seen. Now we're in the early days of a new era, which is going to be much more about quality than quantity.
"The emphasis is now going to shift to providing high bandwidth, high quality broadband, that can deliver multiple, steady, pin-sharp images for applications. To do this, we've got to have advanced global standards for end-to-end delivery of broadband data streams. This is exactly what the Broadband Forum, working with other standards organizations, is doing, and we believe its role is going to be even more important in the next decade than it has been in the last ten years," adds Oliver.
The Forum journey has mirrored these industry developments over the past 15 years, evolving from the ADSL Forum, to the DSL Forum, and finally to the Broadband Forum, each time expanding its scope and remit to fit the needs of the industry. During this time its 200 plus member companies have worked together to issue 100 Technical Reports (TRs), with the aim of helping the industry develop the full potential of broadband in the areas of network management and control, access development, network architectures, interoperability, and digital home management.
Planning for the future, focusing on IPTV, fiber access, Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) and Energy Efficiency (EE) are all high on the agenda at the Forum's last quarterly meeting of 2008, which is being held this week in Hawaii. The technical working groups - Architecture and Transport; Operations and Network Management; Testing and Interoperability; and BroadbandHome - are meeting to celebrate the Forum's entry into its 15th year - and to plan for the next 15. James D. LaClair, VP of Network Operations at Hawaiian Telcom, opened the meeting with a keynote address.
George Dobrowski, President and Chairman of the Broadband Forum, explains, "The last 14 years have seen immense changes in the broadband industry, from the initial development stages, to the explosion of different access technologies and sophisticated applications we see today. For an industry consortium to be entering its 15th year in such an ever changing and diverse industry, and to recognize the role we have played along the way to this historic milestone of 400 million global broadband subscribers, is a great achievement."
George continues, "The Forum's longevity is testament to its continued relevance to the industry and its response to industry needs, together with the continued commitment of its members whom I would like to thank for their support. We are excited about the next 15 years and we commit to continue to drive the global standards and specifications that are imperative to the successful development and deployment of broadband."