Research from VIAVI Solutions (NASDAQ:VIAV) indicates that 1 Gbps Internet speeds are now available to an estimated 354 million people across 51 countries, accounting for 5% of the global population.
The United States is the global gigabit leader, with gigabit Internet available to 68.5 million people, an additional 4 million since August 2018. China is not far behind, overtaking South Korea as the country with the second largest availability of gigabit Internet. In China, gigabit is now available to 61.5 million people, representing a leap of 41 million since August of last year. Nonetheless, that number represents just 4.5% of the country's population.
Following the United States and China are South Korea with gigabit access for 46.9 million, Spain with 30.1 million and Canada with 15.9 million. When coverage is considered as a percentage of population, Singapore remains the global leader with gigabit Internet available to 95% of its population.
While the status of one in 20 people on the planet having access to gigabit Internet indicates significant global progress, it contrasts starkly with the estimated 50% of the global population that still does not have any form of Internet access. In the last 12 months, only two new gigabit countries have come online, Bahrain and Malaysia. This has slowed since last year when eight joined the ranks of gigabit Internet countries.
As gigabit-capable 5G wireless networks go live around the world, cellular technology's share of gigabit Internet provision has increased with a corresponding drop in fiber's share. In the coming two years, as 5G networks become more widespread, the trend is expected to continue. Nonetheless, fiber remains the backhaul infrastructure of choice across most cellular, cable and telecom networks, making fiber a critical, if sometimes hidden, component for the majority of gigabit Internet providers.
"Not surprisingly, we are seeing a gradual shift away from wired gigabit Internet provision toward wireless technologies. As commercial 5G networks are rolled out in greater numbers, the pace of this transition will escalate radically and soon reach a tipping point," said Sameh Yamany, chief technology officer, VIAVI. "Yet even with the global rise of 5G networks, the importance of testing and troubleshooting fiber will remain paramount as mobile operators deploy more and more fiber-based network infrastructure."
VIAVI's Gigabit Monitor [http://www.gigabitmonitor.com/] is a web-based tool intended to showcase the state-of-play of gigabit Internet provision across the world, based on publicly available data. The database is updated regularly, based on deployment announcements and feedback from users. VIAVI launched the site in 2016; it tracks gigabit deployments since 2004.