Broadband growth is still reeling from the economic downturn, but there are also tentative signs of a recovery, according to market research company Point Topic.

The number of worldwide broadband subscribers grew by only 3 percent when comparing the first and the second quarters of 2009, said CEO Oliver Johnson. This marks the lowest growth Point Topic has seen since it began conducting research in 1999 and the number of broadband subscribers added between those quarters was the lowest since 2005, he said.

But the fact that the number of broadband subscribers is still growing says a lot about its appeal, and there are some signs of recovery in markets such as Japan and Australia, according to Johnson.

By the end of 2010 the total number of broadband subscribers will reach 500 million, he said.

Eastern Europe and Latin America showed the biggest growth. These markets still have low broadband penetration but their late start allowed both regions to learn from the mistakes that have been made in other countries, Johnson said.

The leading countries for broadband were China, the US and Japan. The UK ranked sixth with 17.8 million subscribers, fewer than France or Germany.

In terms of technology, fibre is continuing to eat into the market share of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and cable, and has been the success story during the last couple of months, according to Johnson. The number of fibre lines has grown by 24.5 percent in the last year, compared to about 15 percent for DSL and cable, he said.

But fibre is still the third most popular in total numbers. The global technology market shares was 64 percent for DSL, 21 percent for cable and 13 percent for fiber.

The growing number of homes with fibre access also goes hand-in-hand with higher IPTV penetration, which grew by 56 percent between the second quarter in 2008 and 2009, according to Johnson.