Week in research: Broadband growth recovers; PC shipments dip in 2011

Broadband parties like it's 2009: The broadband market in Q3 2011 showed the strongest growth since 2009, as telecom operators increased their market share through fiber network investments. Subscriber numbers grew worldwide to 581 million total, with 17.4 million lines added during the third quarter. Not surprisingly, the trongest growth was noted in Asia-Pac, followed by EMEA and North America. Russia is also becoming a strong broadband contender, entering the Forum's top ten broadband countries list in seventh place. "These are very healthy figures for Q3 and they demonstrate the ongoing strength of the broadband market," commented Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum. "We are especially pleased to see the trend in fiber technologies beginning to take off. Our G-PON certification program, launched in Q3 and with first certifications already in place, has been very widely welcomed and this is an indication that the market is ready for much further growth in this area." News release

Broadband market shares

PC shipments dip slightly: Shortages in available hard drives, competition from devices such as tablets, and a weak economy all contributed to a 0.2 percent decline in PC shipments in Q4 2011, Telecompaper reports. Shipments of PCs worldwide totaled 92.7 million for the quarter. Although 352.4 million PC shipped for the full year 2011, a 1.6 percent growth, Q1 2012 may see a slowdown due to the continued HDD shortage. However, IDC forecasts, growth will rebound by the end of 2012 to as much as 5.4 percent. Article

Telcos, cable stay the course: Despite the rough economy and competitive pressure from, U.S. cable companies and carriers maintained solid margins and strong liquidity, particularly in the third quarter, Fitch reports, with 90 percent of companies reviewed earning a Stable Outlook for 2012. Faced with "minimal organic growth opportunities," many telcos and cablecos pursued acquisition strategies instead. With capex normalizing from it precarious position during the recession, wireline service providers will see "stable capital intensity" while wireless providers are forecast to increase their capex in the midst of LTE expansion. Article

Smartphones take over LTE: By 2016, smartphones will garner 57.3 percent of all LTE subscriptions, thanks to the rapid growth of LTE devices worldwide, from none in 2010 to over 200 at the end of 2011. "The majority of products are currently aimed at PCs, with three out of five devices models being discrete modems, either routers or PC add-on devices," said Jan ten Sythoff, Pyramid Research Analyst at Large. Thanks to developers like Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) Innovation Lab, which provides technical resources to smaller companies so they can integrate LTE capabilities into different devices, the availability of LTE modules has grown from none to 30 in a year's time. News release

China Internet users grow: The number of Internet users in China passed half a billion, with an Internet penetration rate of 37.7 percent--up 3.4 percent from the end of 2010. The Internet's popularity has also led to rapid growth of "microblogging," which has government authorities in Beijing struggling to tighten control over the impromptu news sources. Article