54% fibre and counting

54% fibre and counting

Summary: Using a fibre connection in Japan is the most common way of accessing the internet. Why are we so far behind?


Using a fibre connection in Japan is the most common way of accessing the internet. Why are we so far behind?

While we argue over government investment in the National Broadband Network, in many parts of the world it's happening of its own accord. In Hong Kong, Korea and Japan, TV advertisements for fibre to the home are becoming more and more common .

Japan is often cited as a country that is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest in terms of the penetration of fibre to the home. The latest OECD figures from a year ago pegged the level of fibre penetration at around 50 per cent of all Japanese broadband connections.

In this edition of Twisted Wire, George Hoffman, the group manager for the communications sector at IDC Japan, says the figures are higher now, although the rate of growth has slowed. The price is normally around $10 more than an ADSL connection and, as you might expect, demand for ADSL and VDSL is dwindling.

So what is driving this phenomenal growth in Japan? It's nothing to do with government investment, or even latent demand from a net-savvy population. As you'll discover, it's driven more by the suppliers, who are making considerable operational cost savings by laying fibre.

Running time: 27 minutes, 17 seconds

Topics: Broadband, NBN, Tech Industry


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I hate to point this out Phil, but it has to do with demand.

    You have taken this article and made it a "build and they will come" approach works.

    Let's make it easy for you. Would you cough up $43 billion dollars for this network?

    How many "build and they will come" approached worked in the past. One Tel? Great investment.

    It's laughable to compare Singapore and Japan to Australia. These places are so small with a density that makes infrastructure investment a reasonable rate of return.

    Otherwise, there would be no investment.

    What mad business man would poor money into a investment that has a poor return or high risk with little return.

    Oh, let's get this right, it's not a business, but a mad government.......
  • @Theguy
    So, in which forthcoming century do you wish to have fiber ? Let us know when your ready honey bun(unlike yourself)..., oki ?
  • Scano6disk,

    If your so desparate to have fibre why don't you just get it?

    Believe it or not, you can already get it! You don't need the magnifico NBN for it to happen.

    It's so easy, pick up the phone and call a telco and you can get it.

    Just don't expect the taxpayer to pay for it.
  • Theguy,

    Two quick things. One I did not anywhere say a build it and they'll come approach works - I made the point that in Japan it seems to be more of a long term cost cutting approach and acknowledge that the circumstances are unique to Japan. Have a listen to it sometime.

  • Phil,

    Maybe I'm missing something but the title "why are we so behind" gives me the impression that we are behind in fibre? I mean, you go on to talk about this and it's cost effectiveness over time.

    To achieve this, requires a good take up and hence leads back to demand. You then go on to state it's not about demand, so the circle goes around.

    So how is this not linked?

    Trying to treat Australia like Japan, Korea or Singapore, just does not work with infrastructure.

  • Sorry to burst your bubble, but not everyone can get fibre. My friends ENTIRE STREET, is incapable of even getting ADSL1, their are no cables through his street. I on the other hand, have the choice of ADSL1, Telstra's ADSL2 (at a max connection speed of 24Mbs and not desirable) or another company using a Telstra DSLAM (also not overly desirable).

    Not only that, fibre is not used for the sole purpose of illegal movies and porn, their are many a good program (especially on linux) that you pay for (well, not so much on linux XD ) and download online, plus for all of the gamers out their we like to buy and download steam games, I own more then 100GB worth of steam games and over 50GB worth of Ashampoo and abc.net products and It takes a VERY long time to download that amount, with Australia's, shitty internet speeds and **** tiny download limits.
  • @Theguy

    You didn't answer the question. When do you think we should have fibre for the last mile?
  • As for why we are behind, it's got nothing to do with clever use of statistics, because most of our population lives in quite dense urban areas. We are behind due to the fact that we had a legacy monopolist who failed to advance or maintain our infrastructure, and up to now a government that did not even recognise that there was a problem.

    NBN will, for the first time, introduce real competition among service providers over a world class network.
  • @TheGuy - Stop burning, the libs didnt get the vote because of their crappy broadband policy. Maybe you should move on and accept that the rest of the world has adopted Fibre as its next gen communications medium.
  • No everyone has the same need. Some people do need 100m or even more speed broadband and want to pay extra for that If the government have that much to spend, why not just use part of the money to subsidise those who really need it.
    Thomas YUAN
  • @Theguy, have you noticed that the NBN fibre footprint doesn't include Sydney's national parks, the Nullarbor, Great Sandy Desrt and Arnhem Land? Comparisons using Australia's 3 persons per sq km for the whole landmass is disingenuous, because the fibre will only go to larger towns. Regional Australia (which you should visit sometime) is extremely urbanised, and this means a density of about 200 persons per sq km, which IS directly comparable to South Korea and Japan, who have enjoyed FTTH for up to a decade.

    The ABS says that only 50% of Australia's ADSL connections see bandwidth of 2 Mbps or better. And 40% of Australians cannot even get ADSL. The NBN will fix the biggest natural obstacle to restoring sustainable populations to regions where people are needed, and will take pressure of big city infrastructure.

    In fact the NBN is a 97% coverage minimum 12 Mbps wireless service, which will be congestion free and offer cheap data rates BECAUSE it is underpinned by a 93% fixed fibre network.

    Finally, a $27 billion build over eight years will cost each taxpayer $30 a month. But a typical monthly saving of $20-40 is likely upon replacing all current household landline and internet costs with a basic 25 Mbps (guaranteed minimum) fibre service will be $20-40 a month. It would be suicidal for the ALP to claim that the net cost to taxpayers of building the entire NBN (satellite, wireless and FTTH) would be zero, but it may turn out to be the case.

    Why exactly don't you want to do this?
  • Oh, and demand. Well, by the time the education campaign was rolled out, the residents of Armidale and Willunga practically all said yes.

    Seriously, mate, Telstra hasn't maintained the copper for years and will now formally cease maintaining it and move all their customers onto the NBN.

    Takeup will be 100%, unless you want to exercise your right to stupidly opt out and pay for it yourself later after everyone else has it.
  • TheGuy,

    It has nothing to do with initial take up rate, it's to do with a 50 year project in the making, taking 1/5th of the time to build it.

    Alot of people are either ignorant or do not understand the complexity of what must be done in the Telecommunications Industry to keep up with the rest of the world.

    We are currently falling in behind in both speed and access.
  • @Theguy, you are missing the fundamentals, the capabilities of fiber as compared to the dying Copper, do you think the above mentioned countries are all fools to implement such an expensive medium, if their land mass are so small they could easily install a few more exchanges and cover everyone with ADSL2+/VDSL2+ easily ?, as for porn and movies you can even view them via dialup, dnt get your point, anyways you need to look at how it can aid small businesses and people lacking proper/expensive connectivity.

    I run my own server from home on a BP Cable connection with an uplink speed of 1Mbps+ and Downlink speed of 30-40Mbps (Fluctuates during peak/non-peak hours), my server consists of Church websites i make for free to provide an online presence to 2 Churches in Adelaide, I create the website and host them for free, i work, pay my taxes and all i gain is a satisfaction that i am doing good..., and then there are people like you who wish to destroy(destructive mentality), rather than be more constructive with their brains, I am more than willing to pay more and invest more in something that is more fruitful !

    I am currently completing my postgraduate in Software Engineering and i know your illiterate mind can't comprehend why Fiber is the future, as your a person of the past of have other issues, i completely understand.
  • "Just don't expect the taxpayer to pay for it."

    I dont see why this is unreasonable, I've been paying taxes for YEARS now and it's about time I got to see some benefit from it, my monies go to paying for transport projects that I will never use and will only benefit a few, my monies go to paying for Hospitals that I have never used... and for baby bonuses (ffs). Here is a project that will actually benefit a lot of people instead of just a few and now we have selfish twits like you that think just because they are happy with their current internet upload speeds then everyone should be too. Seriously pull your head our of the sand.

    oh and you know what else I've been paying for is line rental for +20 years, where did that money go? you'd think it would have gone to upgrading the network but it didn't... so much for the private sector.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • You have got to be joking if you are comparing the urbanization of Japan to a country like Australia

    Go to Wikipedia and have a look at the population density figures of the major capital cities in Japan vs Australia, you would be pleasantly surprised
  • Wikiapedia is not an official source of information, i thought our education system tought you that?

    Most of the country lives on the edges of Australia, this is how countries can do 90%+ Fibre rollouts.
  • If you listened to the podcast, you would have actually realized that we are not in any way, shape or form comparable to Japan. Either in population density (have a look at the figures of population density with Hiroshima/Tokyo vs Sydney/Adelaide etc etc) or in general anything else.
  • @deteego
    "I need fibre for my job and you are selfish for thinking otherwise"
    thats not my job its a hobby... :)

    Besides your missing the point, its not about me(avoiding my point), its about how Fiber can provide us with a lot of services, like shoving a shovel up your petit mind even ! :D
  • Wikipedia quotes sources of population statistics from the actual governments in those aforementioned countries

    So unless you are saying Wikipedia is lying, or you have a more reliable source, you are as wrong as the definition of the word

    It doesn't matter if the most of the population lives on the country edges (this is the same deal with Japan as well btw), cities like Hiroshima or Toky have 3-10x the population density that our cities have.

    Come up with a better reason to promote the NBN, because this one is pathetically desperate. There is a reason why I was comparing cities and not the whole country