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Users opt for faster broadband speeds; U.S. falls in Akamai report

This week in telecom news, an FCC report shows more users are opting for faster fixed and mobile broadband speeds, but an Akamai report saw the U.S. dropping out of the top 10 for global broadband speeds.

This week in telecom news, the FCC's latest report on fixed and mobile broadband connections revealed the number of households opting for faster broadband speeds with connections of 10 Mbps or higher doubled from 2012 to 2013. But at the same time, the U.S. dropped off of Akamai's report of the top 10 countries with the highest average broadband speeds, despite its increasing connection rates. Meanwhile, the global Ethernet and IP MPLS VPN service markets are booming, and are expected to experience more growth.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable reported to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) that Comcast would own one-third of the fixed broadband market if the provider's acquisition of Time Warner is approved. Meanwhile, the global Ethernet and IP MPLS VPN service markets are booming and are expected to experience more growth. Read on for more need-to-know telecom news.

More users adopting faster fixed and mobile broadband connections

The number of fixed and mobile broadband connections with downstream speeds of at least 10 Mbps reached 103 million in June 2013, an increase of 118% from the previous year, according to an FCC report.

Mobile broadband saw the sharpest increase in connections -- growing 279% since June 2012. In June 2013, more than 52 million mobile users connected at rates over 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream, up from 18.7 million users in 2012.

The jump was driven by the broader availability of high-speed service and increased use of bandwidth-intensive video, according to Telecompetitor.

More households are adopting faster fixed broadband connections, according to the report. In June 2013, there were 54 residential fixed-location connections per 100 households with speeds of at least 3 Mbps downstream, up from 50 connections per 100 households in December 2012, Telecompetitor reported.

The FCC report also included a 10-year review of fixed broadband connections. Between June 2003 and June 2013, business and residential fixed-location connections grew from 23 million to 94 million at a rate of 15% growth per year.

U.S. drops in broadband speed ranking

The U.S. has fallen off Akamai's list of the top 10 counties with the highest average broadband connection speeds, despite a 9% increase in connection rates last quarter.

The average U.S. broadband speeds were 10.5 Mpbs in the first quarter of 2014, according to Akami's State of the Internet Report for Q1. The average speed in the U.S. increased from 10 Mpbs since the fourth quarter of 2013, where the U.S. rounded out the top 10.

South Korea topped this quarter's list of top 10 countries with an average connection speed of 23.6 Mbps. Ireland edged out the U.S. for the top 10 spot with average connection speeds of 10.7 Mbps.

According to Telecompetitor, this is the first time in years the U.S. has not made the list.

The U.S. placed on other global top 10 lists for the quarter, however. The U.S. ranked number 7 on the list of broadband users connecting at speeds above 10 Mbps, with 36% of users connecting at average speeds above 10 Mbps.

Comcast-Time Warner merger would control one-third of broadband market

Comcast would own over one-third of the national fixed broadband market if its acquisition of Time Warner Cable is approved, according to a recent letter filed with the FCC.

SNL Financial reported that Comcast would have 35.5% ownership of the market, based on June 2013 data.

Comcast currently has 19.7 million residential fixed broadband subscribers and 1.4 million business broadband subscribers. Time Warner Cable has 11.4 million residential broadband subscribers and 500,000 business broadband subscribers.

Following a merger, the companies estimate they would have 27.9 million residential broadband subscribers and 1.7 million business broadband subscribers.

The FCC announced Tuesday the team that will review the proposed acquisition. Hillary Burchuk, trial attorney with the FCC's office of general counsel, will lead the review team. Bill Dever of the Wireline Competition bureau was named Burchuk's deputy. The review team will report to a steering committee. The steering committee will be chaired by Jonathan Sallet, FCC's general council, and will review both Comcast and AT&T's proposed acquisitions. The steering committee will include Media Bureau Chief William Lake, International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre, Wireline Competition Chief Julie Veach and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Roger Sherman.

Ethernet and IP MPLS VPN services booming

The global Ethernet services and IP MPLS VPN services markets combined totaled $62.6 billion in 2013, according to the latest report from Infonetics Research.

The markets have grown 12% since 2012, according to the report. The increase was attributed to the growing popularity of cloud services accessed via IP VPNs, Ethernet services and mobile backhaul transport over Ethernet services.

"Ethernet services continued to gain momentum in 2013, easily outpacing IP MPLS VPN services," said Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks and Infonetics Research co-founder, in a statement. "Both segments are growing at a healthy clip and will continue to do so, with Ethernet services growing about twice as fast as IP MPLS VPNs through 2017."

Howard added that SDN and NFV will change how service providers operate their networks and deliver services. The biggest change, he said, will come from the security services offered over IP MPLS VPNs and Ethernet services like firewalls and SSL VPNs.

The report also predicted revenue from 10 GE and 100 GE Ethernet services will grow 300% by 2018.

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