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Sunday, 16 August 2009 10:53

Mobile broadband 'no threat' to fixed broadband services

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Fuelled by regional government broadband initiatives, including Australia's NBN, Asia-Pacific fixed broadband subscribers are expected to grow 17.3 percent to reach 182 million users by the end of this year, with total industry billings for the region estimated to top US$44.9 billion which will be 13.3 percent more than billings in 2008.

Fixed broadband uptake in the region is expected to continued alongside the growth in mobile broadband, with much of the growth attributed to government initiatives in rolling-out their national broadband ambitions, like Malaysia’s high-speed broadband (HSBB) project, Australia’s national broadband network (NBN) and Singapore’s iN2015 masterplan.

Frost & Sullivan industry analyst, Adeel Najam, says he expects telcos in developing markets to continue deploying basic xDSL (digital subscriber line) infrastructure, and by next year, when most of the government-initiated projects are earmarked for full-scale roll-out, he says broadband users in Asia-Pacific are expected to breach the 200-million-mark closing the year 2010 at 212.6 million.

According to its latest report and analysis of the market,  Frost & Sullivan finds that the broadband subscriber base in the region – covering 14 Asia-Pacific countries including Japan - will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.1 percent annually from 2009 to 2014 to reach 342.9 million subscribers by the end of 2014, and, in that same year, the region’s household broadband penetration would have risen to 37.2 percent, from only about 18 percent last year, with revenues estimated at close to US$69 billion.

“The bulk of bandwidth growth and network roll-outs in the next few years will be driven by fibre-to-the-node deployments aided mainly by government spending on national high-speed broadband projects,” Najam says, adding that xDSL will however remain the dominant platform in developing markets.

According to Najam, “consumer appetite for broadband will be spurred by the demand for high throughput value-added services such as IPTV and video-on-demand,” and, he adds, "services such as Web 2.0, social networking, file-sharing, online gaming, as well as falling PC prices and availability of low-cost netbooks have also added impetus towards broadband consumption.”

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Frost & Sullivan reports that in 2008, the top six Asia-Pacific countries with the highest household broadband penetration rates were South Korea - said to be one of the highest in the world - at 92.8 percent, Hong Kong - 85 percent, Singapore - 78.5 percent, Taiwan - 66 percent, Japan -62.7 percent, and Australia with 63.7 percent, The remaining eight markets have household broadband penetration rates of less than 60 percent.

According to Frost & Sullivan, by number of subscribers, in 2008 China had the most fixed broadband users with 83.4 million (53.8 percent of the region’s total subscriber base), followed by Japan with 30 million and South Korea with 15.5 million.

Looking forward, Najam dispels the threat of mobile broadband to fixed broadband services, saying that he believes that both access services need to co-exist, and that “in the age of convergence and multi-play services, both wireless and wireline broadband should be viewed as complementing technology to offer subscribers with blended services.

“While mobile broadband has significantly lower throughput than fixed access, it provides residential users with the convenience of ‘on-the-go’ connectivity.”

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