Global broadband access is growing but so is speed inequality

Monday, 31 January, 2022

Global broadband access is growing but so is speed inequality

The fibre development index for 2021 reveals ups and downs compared to the previous year.

By 2026, the percentage of the global population that is connected to the internet will increase from 58% to 70%, according to Omdia’s Global Fiber Development Index (FDI). Of the 70%, 30% of the population will have access to the internet via a mobile device and 40% will have a home fixed broadband connection.

Although the connectivity divide is closing, speed and service inequalities are unfortunately widening.

In Latin America, for example, although 44% of the population will have access to fixed broadband services by 2026, only 5.3% will be on a connection delivering 500 Mbps or more, and only 1% will have speeds of more than 1 Gbps. In contrast, in North America the equivalent factors are 77%, 26%, and 11% respectively, and they are 66%, 40%, and 10% in Oceania, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. At the other end of the spectrum, only 9% of the African population will have access to fixed broadband, with 84% of those users limited to speeds of less than 30 Mbps.

Singapore continues to lead Omdia’s FDI in 2021, followed by South Korea, United Arab Emirates, China and Qatar. The first European countries in the ranking are Spain and Sweden in seventh and eighth positions. They are closely followed by Luxembourg and Romania. The US heads the Americas region and is positioned 18th in the world overall. The 2021 full ranking results are available here.

Australia is ranked 41st out of the 56 countries surveyed; it dropped three places from last year's index. Under 30% of households have fibre to the premises and the average downlink speed is about 300 Mbps. This lists the nation as broadband-ready, with medium-to-high levels of broadband penetration but low levels of fibre investment.

Greater investment in advanced, full-fibre broadband networks is essential to closing this digital divide. To track the market, Omdia created the Global Fiber Development Index in 2020, which monitors investments in fibre across all parts of the network on a country by country basis.

The Index covers 81 territories and is updated annually. Beyond coverage and household penetration, the benchmark tracks and ranks all elements of fibre network investment, specifically fibre access, mobile fibre backhaul, core fibre backhaul, and overall fibre QoS, which is currently measured by overall average downlink and uplink speed.

The index has been recognised by ETSI’s F5G group as being best practice for measuring fibre development.

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