Broadband numbers surge past 3.5m, dip set to come

Australia's appetite for broadband continues at a healthy pace, with more than 3.5 million people now hooked up with fast Internet connections. But a stark decline in this growth is around the corner, warns an industry analyst.

In the 12 months since June 30 last year, broadband uptake has increased by 1,415,300 connections, or 67 percent, to 3,518,100.

"However, as we would expect, the percentage growth of broadband take-up has declined given the increase of the total subscriber base in absolute terms," said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Ed Willett.

He said the ACCC Snapshot of Broadband Deployment report reveals the total quarterly growth in broadband was about 11 percent for the June quarter. And that was down from the March 2006 figure of about 14 percent.

According to telco consultant Paul Brooks of Layer10 Consulting, the growth in the high teens of the past few years is over. He says the percentage growth in subscriber numbers will trend downwards on recent levels of between a half to a third.

"Over the next 12 months, quarter-on-quarter growth will reduce to around 7 percent," he said.

This will have greater implications for broadband providers.

"It will be harder to attract new subscribers to networks because, by and large they will have already been captured. The low-hanging fruit has been picked."

Brooks predicts subscriber growth to be about 1 percent by 2011.

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Howard Dahdah

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