STAMFORD, CT — ?Despite the global economic downturn, the number of household broadband connections continues to grow robustly, and one in five households worldwide will have a fixed broadband connection in the home by the end of 2009, according to Gartner, Inc.

A total of 422 million households will have a fixed broadband connection in the home in 2009, up from 382 million households in 2008, and the market will steadily grow with nearly 580 million households having a fixed broadband connection by 2013.

“Consumers may be watching their household expenditure, but dropping their broadband connections is not on the top of their agendas,” said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner. She cited affordable PCs, affordable broadband, aging populations, and stimulus plans in some countries as contributing to the growth of broadband subscriptions.

At the end of 2008, approximately 21 countries had broadband connections in at least 50 percent of homes (see Table 1). In many countries, the rates are much higher, with the highest penetration in South Korea (86 percent) and the lowest in Indonesia (less than 1 percent).

gartner1009Although many mature markets will see a slowing down of broadband rates as connectivity reaches saturation, many emerging markets are still in the early stages of broadband deployment and will see rapid growth in adoption rates. Gartner predicts that over the next five years, the emerging markets (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Latin American countries, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will collectively provide twice as many new consumer broadband connections as mature markets: 135 million vs. 62 million connections, respectively.

Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) will account for 92 million (68 percent) of the increased 135 million household broadband connections in the emerging markets, meaning that BRIC accounts for almost half (47 percent) of the total global increase in connections. China takes first place in contributing the greatest number (62 million, or 46 percent) of the 135 million new broadband connections in emerging markets.

Twenty seven million U.S. households will make up a large share of new broadband connections in mature markets between 2008 and 2013, with Japan accounting for almost 10 million, Germany with 5 million and the U.K. with slightly over 3 million connections.

However, despite the significant growth in connections in emerging markets, Gartner analysts said that households in emerging markets will continue to outnumber those in mature markets by 4 to 1. Consequently, it is unlikely that broadband household penetration in the emerging markets will catch up with mature markets within the next 10 years, and Gartner estimates that the digital divide will remain in the 50 to 54 percent range for the foreseeable future.

Gartner estimates that the worldwide consumer fixed voice, Internet and broadband services market was worth $372 billion in 2008 and that broadband access services supplied 27 percent of that total. Broadband services will continue to be the growth engine in revenue, offsetting declining voice revenue and supplying almost 40 percent of the $347 billion total revenue in 2013.

“Broadband services represent the core of all fixed-line household communications services; hence, communications providers will be able to continue their reliance on broadband subscription revenue to offset revenue loss from other services in their portfolio offerings,” Ms. Sabia said. “Equipment manufacturers (modems, routers and PCs) and providers of carrier infrastructure will benefit by having more connections to supply equipment and services to. Government, medical and educational institutions alike will have alternative access to their customers via the household broadband connection.”