OYSTER BAY, NY – The number of customers using high-bandwidth services such as Internet video and online gaming is growing around the world, according to research from ABI Research. To handle the explosion of IP traffic, broadband operators are expanding fiber coverage. ABI Research estimates that worldwide fiber broadband subscriber numbers will more than double in 2016 to 142 million subscribers, from 69.6 million in 2011. In one of the most ambitious projects, China Telecom is deploying fiber optic broadband to serve 100 million households and 30 million FTTH subscribers by the end of 2015. Extending fiber broadband coverage not only increases speed but also allows the rollout of such services as VoD and IPTV.

At present, North America has the highest fiber optic broadband penetration, followed by Asia-Pacific. The Asia-Pacific region is seeing strong subscriber growth, largely because of the growing Chinese market – about 17 million Chinese subscribers have been added since the second quarter of 2010. According to analyst Khin Sandi Lynn, there is plenty of room for growth in China and India, which still have low penetration rates.

Overall, according to ABI Research practice director Jason Blackwell, there were more than 539 million fixed broadband subscribers globally at the end of second quarter 2011, an 8 percent increase from the same quarter in 2010.