Even in a soft economy, a look at the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure scene suggests that Asia's countries will continue to reach the most people with the fastest networks in the years to come.
In December, Pyramid Research predicted that FTTB/FTTH operators would pass around 212 million homes by the end of 2013, which is only about 12 percent of all households globally. But Asia stands out because of how aggressively its countries are passing homes with fiber.
Pyramid Research estimates that the Asia/Pacific region had more than 68 million homes passed by fiber infrastructure at the end of 2008. Nearly 25 million households throughout Asia/Pacific subscribe to a fiber-based service. So Asia/Pac countries represent about 78 percent of all residential FTTH connections across the planet.
South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan have the highest proportion of households connected to fiber networks globally.
In South Korea, which has telecom giant KT and challenger SK Broadband, penetration stands at 40 percent, making it the top FTTH market internationally, according to Pyramid's data.
During the next five years, additional network upgrades in five Asian markets (Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) will increase penetration to 122 million homes passed, the Pyramid report states.
Along with broadband and voice, fiber networks are supporting a growing slate of IPTV services, and again Asia dominates this space. Using ITU data, Light Reading's recent report -- IPTV in the USA -- found that Asia accounted for about one third of the world's 10 million IPTV subscribers at the end of 2007. International Editor Ray Le Maistre gives more perspective on Asia's IPTV scene in this report:
Have Asian Operators achieved IPTV 2.0?.
Of course, Asia's IPTV success is hardly surprising, given that the region dominates most other telecom services categories these days. (See Top 10 Telecom Markets: Asia.)
Pyramid's report says Mumbai and Delhi in India are tops on the list of large cities that are ripe for fiber investment. Why? The population of those cities is large and getting larger, and the number of well-off families has increased dramatically in recent years, as noted in the 2008 documentary, Web Wide World - India.
If emerging economies do make for a fertile FTTH field, China and India are worth watching as they sport some of the highest projected GDP growth rates on Earth, according to urban affairs think tank, City Mayors:
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