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170m broadband users for Asia

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Asia-Pacific's broadband subscriber base is expected to reach 171-million by the end of 2008. This represents a year-on-year growth of 31,5% and a household broadband penetration rate of only 19,7%.

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the broadband subscriber base in 13 Asia-Pacific countries reached 129,7-million in 2007 and estimates this to reach 321,8-million by end-2013. These numbers will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19,9%. By 2013, the household broadband penetration rate is forecasted to hit 33,7%.
"The surge in demand for broadband is driven by the growing popularity of video-on-demand, multi-player online games, video content sharing and social networking services such as YouTube and Facebook," notes Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst Yong Lih Khoo. "The aggressive push by operators to offer innovative bundled triple- and quadruple-play services has also been a factor."
The total broadband revenues in Asia-Pacific stood at $28,1-billion in 2007. Frost & Sullivan projects this to reach a market size of $42-billion by the end of 2013, growing at CAGR of 7,1% (2008-2013).
The five Asia-Pacific countries with the highest household broadband penetration rates in 2007 were South Korea (90,8%), Hong Kong (83,8%), Taiwan (76,8%), Singapore (73,1%), and Australia (63,2%). Japan has a 57,8% penetration rate, while the remaining seven markets have household broadband penetration rates of less than 50%. India and Indonesia registered the lowest penetration rates at 1,4% and 0,57% respectively.
"As fixed-line substitution and voice migration to mobile continues, broadband value-added services (VAS) become critical drivers for fixed-line service providers," says Lih Khoo. "Operators are aggressively promoting attractive bundled and discounted price plans, encouraging migration from narrowband, introducing local content and innovative services such as IPTV, as well as improving service levels and affordability."
The various government broadband initiatives, particularly in the more developed nations, are also providing impetus for the deployment of wider network infrastructure and coverage. They are also encouraging the development of local broadband content and applications, thus driving broadband uptake.
In terms of broadband access technology, Khoo believes that a wide range of access technologies such as FTTH (fibre-to-the-home), FTTN (fibre-to-the-node), FTTB (fibre-to-the-building), DSL (digital subscriber line) and WiMAX will continue to co-exist, depending on the strategic outlook of the operators, existing infrastructure and price points in a given country.
"FTTx in its various forms – FTTH, FTTB, FTTN – will play a significant role in the next three to four years due to its potential for providing greater bandwidth to the premises, compared to copper wires," Khoo says. "Some countries like Hong Kong are already providing speeds up to 1Gbps, while other countries like Singapore are following suit."
Although service providers are rolling-out FTTx, Frost & Sullivan believes that the profitability of new services like IPTV remains questionable. This is because these deployments would typically have a long payback period, and most operators are likely to be cautious about deploying fully-fledged FTTH in a credit crunch environment.