Broadband CPE devices have “best year ever”

Suppliers of customer premises equipment (CPE) for the broadband market had their best year ever in 2012, with revenues increasing 13 per cent to reach $7.7bn, spurred on by particularly strong sales in the cable segment, according to US firm Infonetics Research.

While worldwide revenues from shipments of cable CPE devices rose a robust 26 per cent in 2012, shipments of DSL devices fell four per cent. However, on the bright side, VDSL CPE shipments jumped 39 per cent, reaching 29 million units.

Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access and pay-TV at Infonetics Research, attributes last year’s strong performance to a combination of ongoing technology shifts and the need for operators to support legacy broadband services and subscribers.

“Cable operators are gaining significant traction with DOCSIS 3.0 in North America, Europe, Korea, and Japan, and they’re in the early stages of rolling out video gateways that combine DOCSIS CPE with video transcoding capabilities,” said Heynan. “These gateways allow cable companies to deliver a whole-home, multi-screen service to customers, and we anticipate hearty growth for the devices over the next few years.”

Heynan also observes that the market for wifi-enabled CPE is “really heating up”, adding: “In 2012, nearly half of all DSL units sold were wifi-enabled, and we’re forecasting this to swell to 74 per cent by 2017. The growth of wifi-enabled CPE is proof positive that service providers are quickly moving to more integrated devices to control the user experience in the home.

Huawei is identified as the broadband CPE market share leader for 4Q12 and the full year 2012, followed closely by ZTE, with both vendors benefiting significantly from fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts at China Telecom and China Unicom.

US firm ARRIS maintained the top revenue share spot in the DOCSIS 3.0 CPE segment, based on strong EMTA shipments to North American operators, with Motorola, Cisco and Netgear following.

In the highly competitive FTTH CPE segment, Infonetics expects success in China to be a key factor in vendor market shares in 2013.

To give a sense of the size of market the various vendors are competing for, Infobetics estimates that on a global basis, there were 57 million FTTH subscribers in 2012, while cable broadband subscribers totalled 111 million.

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