Asia's High Fiber Diet

Even in a tough economy, analysts see Asia as the world's hope for continued fiber access growth

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

February 20, 2009

5 Min Read
Asia's High Fiber Diet

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.

According to the Pyramid report, "Fiber in the Last Mile", South Korea's KT Corp. plans to cover 90 percent of its access lines with FTTH by next year. Meanwhile, Japanese regulator Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts, and Telecommunications plans to have 90 percent of all homes covered by fiber networks by the end of next year, too.

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.

Japan, NTT Group (NYSE: NTT)'s home, and Hong Kong, home of PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) and Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd. (HKBN) , each boast fiber penetrations above 20 percent.

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:



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:

Table 1: China & India: Where the Growth's At

City/urban area

Country

Est. GDP in 2020 in US$B

Est. annual growth 2005-2020

Guangzhou

China

227

6.90%

Changchun

China

42

6.90%

Beijing

China

259

6.60%

Surat

India

57

6.50%

Shanghai

China

360

6.50%

Jaipur

India

38

6.40%

Wuhan

China

96

6.40%

Xian

China

48

6.40%

Pune

India

76

6.30%

Kanpur

India

41

6.30%

Lucknow

India

35

6.30%

Tianjin

China

112

6.30%

Chongqing

China

87

6.30%

Shenyang

China

68

6.30%

Chengdu

China

51

6.30%

Delhi

India

229

6.20%

Bangalore

India

110

6.20%

Ahmadabad

India

78

6.20%

Hyderabad

India

92

6.10%

Mumbai

India

300

6.00%

Chennai

India

91

6.00%

Kolkata

India

224

5.90%

Hong Kong

China

407

3.50%





— Michael Hopkins, Special to Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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