Broadband access: local action will be key to passing the 1bn mark

Inside the Enterprise: The number of fixed line connections around the world is heading towards the one billion mark but more slowly than expects had expected.

According to Point Topic, a research firm, by 2020 there will be 989.4 million fixed-line, broadband connections. This falls short of the psychologically important one billion connections mark, and although broadband take-up continues to grow, growth is tailing off. To reach a billion connections by 2020, there will need to be "enhanced investment in some markets."

In fact, the tail-off of broadband growth is most marked in the world's mature markets, with countries with younger populations showing the fastest growth.

In part, this is to be expected: in emerging and "youthful" markets, the telecoms and media companies that provide broadband services are starting from a much lower base, than in the West.

Then there is competition from newer connection technologies. Mobile 4G connections, in particular, offer an alternative to fixed broadband subscriptions, although as yet only a limited number of consumers seem to have abandoned fixed-line broadband for mobile connections as yet. But that is certainly a possibility: fixed to mobile substitution is already very real for voice calls.