Western Europe accounts for just under half of the IPTV subscribers in the world and half of them are in France, according to the latest figures released by the Broadband Forum and industry research company Point-Topic at the IPTV World Forum. Global subscribers have now reached 21.7 million, up over 60% on last year. The growth of broadband has slowed, but there are now over 410 million homes with high-speed internet connections.

“During 2008, IPTV operators showed that TV over IP could be deployed on a large scale. Western Europe remains the largest single region for IPTV,” said John Bonsell, a senior analyst with Point-Topic. “As expected, due to the global economic situation, broadband growth slowed, however all countries experienced overall growth during the last year.”

There are now over 10.3 million IPTV subscribers in Western Europe, up from just over 7 million a year ago. France accounts for over half of subscribers in the region. A third of French broadband subscribers now take an IPTV service. Eastern Europe adds another 0.8 million.

North America, with 3.8 million subscribers, has now edged ahead of South and East Asia, with 3.6 million, up from 1.7 and 1.8 million respectively. AT&T passed the million mark, contributing to a 113% rise in the number of subscribers in North America last year.

Asia Pacific now has just over 3 million subscribers, up from almost 2.2 million a year ago. Three services in Korea account for around 1.6 million subscribers.

Hong Kong has over 100% household penetration for broadband, although Monaco and Luxembourg have even higher rates, with more than one broadband connection per home.

“This report shows that despite the economic situation the world is facing, the demand for both broadband and IPTV continues to expand,” said George Dobrowski. He is the chairman and president of the Broadband Forum, previously known as the DSL Forum, which changed its name to reflect the broader range of connection technologies being used, including fibre.

Although digital subscriber line telephone connections remain the most prevalent broadband access technology, fibre grew twice as fast as either cable or DSL last year, now accounting for over 50 million fibre to the kerb or premises connections worldwide.