The United States leads the world in gigabit broadband, with 68.5 million people having the service available to them, according to a gigabit availability report from VIAVI Solutions. VIAVI is a technology testing provider that maintains a database of information about gigabit availability that it calls the Gigabit Monitor.
The Gigabit Monitor found that gigabit connectivity is available for 354 million people across 51 countries worldwide. This is about five percent of the global population.
At 61.5 million people, China has moved ahead of South Korea as the country with the second most people with gigabit availability. That total represents an increase of over 41 million with access in August 2019. Despite the significant increase, only 4.5% of the country has access. About 46.9 million people have gigabit access in South Korea.
The jump in China may be partially due to emerging of 5G networks, which eliminate the expensive and time-consuming need to lay cables. That trend may grow as 5G gains traction. Fiber remains the dominant access technology at 88%, however.
“Not surprisingly, we are seeing a gradual shift away from wired gigabit internet provision toward wireless technologies,” VIAVI Chief Technology Officer Sameh Yamany said in a press release. “As commercial 5G networks are rolled out in greater numbers, the pace of this transition will escalate radically and soon reach a tipping point.”
The top five countries are rounded out by Spain with 30.1 million people and Canada with 15.9 people with gigabit available to them. In the past year, Bahrain and Malaysia were the only countries that joined the gigabit per second club. That is six fewer than the countries that first achieved this speed last year, the report says.
While more people have gigabit networks available to them, the overall availability of internet connectivity worldwide still is middling. VIAVI cited estimates that only about half the people in the world have internet access.
Last month, Broadband Now released research estimating that 23% of Americans can get gigabit service. The firm’s “The State of Broadband in America, Q3 2019” also said that 67.1% can get 500 Mbps service.
Updated to correct headline