APAC surpasses Europe in IPTV subscription for first time

Asia-Pacific becomes biggest IPTV market in first quarter 2012 with China experiencing highest growth among all countries; region remains top of broadband market, reveals Broadband Forum.

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--The Asia-Pacific region has surpassed Europe to become the largest IPTV market for the first time in the first quarter of 2012, according to latest figures from the Broadband Forum.

During a press briefing here Tuesday, Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh revealed Asia-Pacific took 43.19 percent of the world's IPTV market share, followed by Europe at 40.37 percent. The Americas accounted for 15.96 percent, with Middle East and Africa taking up the remaining share.

The results were hardly surprising as China since the fourth quarter of 2011 had overtaken France to become the country with the largest number of IPTV subscribers, Mersh noted. The Chinese market had 16.5 million IPTV subscribers in the first quarter of 2012, clocking a subscription growth of 1.1 million, he added.

Since China's regulator cleared the hurdles for IPTV, the country has been seeing "very fast" adoption of the technology, he said.

Worldwide IPTV subscribers reached 65.6 million in the first quarter of 2012, growing 3.8 million over the previous quarter, he added. Globally, subscription of broadband services surpassed 600 million in the first quarter. Asia-Pacific dominated the broadband market with 42 percent share and was also the fastest growing market, Mersh added.

Broadband trends in Asia
On the sidelines of the briefing, Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson, whose firm conducted the study, told ZDNet Asia Asian governments differed from the U.S. government with regard to encouraging network infrastructure deployment.

Asian governments understood the benefits of broadband access and were key drivers in pushing network infrastructure development in their markets, Johnson said.

In contrast, about 30 percent of the U.S. still has no broadband connectivity because operators do not perceive these areas to be profitable. The government, however, is not allowed to build access in those places due to regulatory guidelines which stipulate only operators can build infrastructure in these locations, he explained.

While this strategy stimulates competition between companies and drives innovation, Johnson said the U.S. is missing out on opportunities linked to broadband adoption. He referred to various studies which found an increase of 10 percent broadband access could lead to about 2 percent growth in a country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Commenting on expensive Internet access for some emerging markets, Johnson said this was partly due to the gap between higher income and lower income demographics in these geographies. In countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, operators would charge what wealthier citizens could afford to pay for broadband access.