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Broadband a bright spot in Canada, ITU report shows

The number of worldwide broadband subscribers grew 72 per cent in 2002 to approximately 62 million, according to a...

September 18, 2003  

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The number of worldwide broadband subscribers grew 72 per cent in 2002 to approximately 62 million, according to a report issued by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The Republic of Korea leads the way in broadband penetration, with approximately 21 broadband subscribers for every 100 inhabitants. Hong Kong (China) ranks second in the world with nearly 15 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants and Canada ranks third with just over 11 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

Home users are driving the vast majority of broadband demand in all markets.

“Broadband is arriving at a time when the revolutionary potential of the Internet has still to be fully tapped,” said Dr. Tim Kelly, head of the strategy and policy unit at ITU.

“However, while broadband is accelerating the integration of the Internet into our daily lives, it is not a major industry driver in the same way that mobile cellular and the Internet were in the 1990s. It’s an incremental improvement, offering Internet access that is faster, more convenient and cheaper than ever before.”

One reason for the sharp increase in broadband subscribers is the growing demand for faster Internet speeds. Broadband services provide Internet connections that are at least five times faster than earlier dial-up technologies, enabling users to play online games and download music and videos, as well as share files and access information much faster and more efficiently than before.

In many markets, increased competition among broadband service providers has also triggered lower prices for consumers, boosting demand and making broadband access more affordable.

Early evidence suggests that broadband access may also help fuel consumer spending, according to the report. Around the world, there is a positive relationship between broadband penetration and monthly spending on communications services.

“The boom was driven by the expectation that the Internet would create a large market for electronic commerce, on-demand content, and online applications,” said Kelly. “Broadband brings this expectation one step closer to reality by offering faster speeds and a better platform for the development of content services. In other words, the reality is finally starting to catch up with the market hype.”

Today, approximately one in every 10 Internet subscribers worldwide, or just over five per cent of the total installed base of fixed lines worldwide, has a dedicated broadband connection.

By year-end 2002, broadband services were commercially available in approximately 82 out of 200 economies worldwide. Many of these economies have enjoyed impressive growth in broadband subscriber numbers during the past four years, and in some markets broadband is expected to become one of the fastest growing consumer communications services.

“Birth of Broadband” is the fifth in the series of “ITU Internet Reports”, originally launched in 1997.

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