The growing broadband divide

Charlie Davies/Ovum
11 Jun 2012

Although average broadband speeds are increasing, the global average masks big disparities within different countries.

As the proportion of video and cloud-delivered content and services increases, this divide is in danger of hampering wider adoption of more digitally rich commercial and public goods and services.

Although there is room for diversity in broadband access services and tariffs (it is essential for supporting the sustainable development of the telco industry), raising the broadband bar by ensuring everyone has access to faster broadband is also important.

These two objectives require a number of different measures. These range from effective subsidy schemes for covering rural areas to more innovative pricing for higher-speed broadband from operators.

Digital consumption is evolving rapidly

Cisco recently released its global VNI (Visual Networking Index), which forecasts the global development of IP traffic across fixed and mobile, consumer and enterprise segments. There are no surprises when it comes to the underlying growth trends in traffic, connected devices and the growing proportion of traffic that is video.

However, it is the pace of growth that stands out; Cisco projects a ten-fold increase in IP traffic between 2008 and 2016. This equates to the transmission of 38 million DVDs per hour. Combine this with the pressure to deliver more critical services from the cloud and the challenge facing network development is starkly clear.

How does this break down into individual user consumption? Cisco forecasts an increase in average Internet household traffic from 26.2GB per month in 2011 to 83.7GB per month in 2016 and an increase in broadband speeds, with 74% of all broadband connections delivering 5Mbps by 2016 and 3% delivering 100Mbps.

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