China overtakes the US to become the world's largest broadband market

It was only a matter of time before China became the world's largest broadband market, and analysts Point Topic have confirmed this milestone in a recent worldwide study. "This is a major milestone for China," says Oliver Johnson, Chief Executive of Point Topic. "Launching people into space is spectacular, but having the biggest broadband market down here on earth means a lot more for building a modern, hi-tech economy."

Market watchers have been predicting for some time that China would become the world's leading broadband nation, as Enterprise Briefing reported in 2006, but in the end it had to wait until 2008. Point Topic said that both China and the US had 78 million broadband lines at the end of August 2008, but that China was growing twice as fast. In fact, the US's broadband growth has been slowing since the end of 2007, with the nation only installing an additional 1.1 million broadband lines in Q2 2008, compared to 3.4 million in the last quarter of 2007. Growth in China on the other hand has been accelerating with new additions rising to 5 million from 3 million in the same period. The Chinese government sees broadband as an essential part of its infrastructure and has been instrumental in driving growth.

Unlike the US, where cable still rules the roost, broadband in China is dominated by xDSL technology, according to Point Topic. China has some 60 million installed xDSL lines, with the remaining broadband lines being largely made up of fibre-to-the-home and its variants (FTTx). DSL is also still the main broadband access technology in the major European markets of Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain, while Japan and Korea are the only other countries with any notable FTTx deployment.

Germany is Europe's largest broadband market with 21.8 million installed lines, followed by the UK and France (both 16.7 million). Japan (29.4 million) and South Korea (15.3 million) follow China in Asia and the Pacific. In the Americas Canada (9 million) and Brazil (8.5 million) are second and third after the US. In terms of household penetration, the tiny principality of Monaco leads, with 100%, followed by South Korea (97.2%) and Singapore (89.6 %).

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.