The ministry believes that recent and planned investments in Japan's broadband infrastructure will trigger a continuing uptake of services, equipment, and devices. It also envisages an increasingly networked society, where people are continuously connected via a range of wireline and wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and wireless LAN.
Japan already has a well developed 3G mobile market, kickstarted by archrivals NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) and KDDI Corp., and a progressive broadband sector led by Softbank, which recently expanded its horizons into the business user market (see 3G Japan: 69M Subs by 2007, Japanese Duo Reap 3G Yen , and Softbank Buys Japan Telecom).
And the latest official figures for high-speed access subscriber numbers show there's still a more than healthy appetite for DSL and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services (see table below).
Table 1: DSL & FTTH Users in Japan at End of May 2004
|Jan 04||Feb 04||Mar 04||Apr 04||May 04|
|DSL Service Users||10.6 million||10.9 million||11.2 million||11.5 million||11.8 million|
|FTTH Service Users||961,000||1,043,000||1,142,000||1,241,000||1,328,000|
|Source: Japan's Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications|
The uptake of both has gone ballistic in the past two years. At the end of May 2002 there were just over 3 million DSL subscribers in Japan. At the same time in 2003 there were, 7.9 million, and this year there were 11.8 million.
For FTTH there were just 51,000 users at the end of May 2002, 398,000 by the end of May 2003, and a whopping 1,328,000 at May 31 this year.
But the Japanese government is also aware of the potential pitfalls of such plans. The concerns it pinpoints include the digital divide between those in built-up areas and those in the most rural locations, and the security implications associated with a connected society.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch