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The number of broadband users across the globe is being driven up by increased demand for fibre connections, according to a new report from Point Topic.

The data reveals that there were 678.6 million broadband lines at the end of 2013, which is up by 1.5 per cent on the previous quarter, and represents a 40 million increase compared to the end of 2012.

It suggests that a key driver in numbers is the continued growth in the uptake of Next Generation Access to superfast fibre optic (fibre-to-the-home/premises [FTTH/P]) and hybrid fibre (fibre-to-the-cabinet [FTTC]) connections, which are gaining a proliferating share of the market.

Although overall figures show steady growth, there is a slight slowing as older markets reach saturation, with DSL still the predominant technology, but fibre continuing to outpace all access types in new deployments.

IPTV is also close to hitting the 100 million subscriber threshold, with 21 per cent growth last year and 17 million new subscribers, which takes the overall total to 96 million at the end of 2013.

According to the figures, true fibre optic (FTTH/P) subscribers increased by 12.8 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2013, while hybrid fibre (FTTC) grew by 4.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, wireless increased by 2.2 per cent, satellite rose by 1.6 per cent and cable connections increased by 1.6 per cent.

Commenting on the figures at the Fixed Access Networks Summit in Berlin, Germany, Broadband Forum Chief Executive Robin Mersh said it paints an "extremely interesting picture" of the market, both regionally and in terms of the changes in technology choices as markets reach saturation and others start their "digital journey".

He added: "They are a great illustration of the 'second age of broadband access,' with existing customers demanding more bandwidth and operators introducing new technologies."

Overall, although slower pure copper broadband lines account for the majority of connections, their share declined by 1.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2013, following a 0.9 per cent drop in Q3, as superfast broadband coverage grows and people switch provider.

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