Broadband: a world tour in 8 minutes 20 July 21 Elena Scaramuzzi

While internet access has been increasing worldwide over the past decade, several countries around the world have upgraded, or are in the process of upgrading, their broadband infrastructure to full fibre.

Universal access to the internet is a goal for humanity

One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) until 2030 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 is about building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation. This SDG specifies that this target will be reached also by ensuring the entire world population can access the internet.

Over the past two decades, use of the internet has increased, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) although at different rates across countries. As the chart below demonstrates, in Australia, Germany, Korea, and the US the internet was already used by approximately half of the population in the respective countries in year 2000. In some other countries use of the internet was almost non-existent at that time, but it started growing especially from 2009.

It should be said, in any case, that relevant connectivity gaps still exist in many countries across all continents. For example, the World Bank estimated a total investment of US$100bn to connect the 1.1bn people who are still unconnected in Africa by 2030. The estimated investment to bridge connectivity gaps in South Asia is even higher, as it would amount to US$135bn.

There are different types of broadband internet access networks

To put it very simply, broadband allows the transmission of wide bandwidth data over a high speed internet connection. In the US, only connections with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps qualify as broadband. In many other countries, for example South Africa, broadband encompasses all connections above 256 kbps.

Broadband access network technologies vary by type. Some are mostly based on fibre, with optical cables arriving until the end user premises or building (FTTP/B).

Other broadband networks also use optical fibre, but only in part, as they use copper wires to reach end users. HFC (hybrid fibre-coaxial) broadband networks are upgrades of cable TV networks (DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades of HFC networks enable very fast broadband access). Other broadband access networks are based on wireless technologies, including cellular and satellite.

Every country has its own broadband landscape

According to recent global research by Cullen International, in several Asia-Pacific countries, in selected EU member states and even in a few large economies like Brazil and South Africa FTTP/B has become the most used internet broadband access technology.


To request the full report and/or more information on our Global Trends research on full-fibre networks, click on “Request Access”, in case you are not subscribed to our Global Trends service.


Stay in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter for a free weekly summary of the latest regulatory news and analysis from the communications world.