Growing demand for fixed broadband to go on

Number of subscribers of fixed-based services in Asia-Pacific region will continue rising despite demand for mobile broadband, says Frost & Sullivan.

The number of fixed broadband subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region will grow 17.3 percent to reach 182 million by end-2009, despite more consumers going mobile, said Frost & Sullivan.

The research firm said in a statement Thursday, billings from fixed broadband subscriptions are expected to reach US$44.9 billion in 2009. This represents a revenue rise of 13.3 percent over 2008, even as demand for mobile broadband grows.

Adeel Najam, an industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, attributed the growth of fixed subscribers to government plans to roll out national broadband initiatives. He cited projects such as Malaysia's high-speed broadband (HSBB) project, Australia's national broadband network (NBN) and Singapore's iN2015 masterplan.

"The bulk of bandwidth growth and network roll-outs in the next few years will be driven by fiber-to-the-node deployments aided mainly by government spending on national high-speed broadband projects," Najam said in the statement.

Meanwhile in developing countries, telcos are expected to continue deploying basic xDSL (digital subscriber line) infrastructure which will remain the dominant platform, he added.

Big users
In 2008, the six Asia-Pacific economies with the highest household broadband penetration rates were South Korea (92.8 percent), Hong Kong (85 percent), Singapore (78.5 percent), Taiwan (66 percent), Australia (63.7 percent) and Japan (62.7 percent).

By number of subscribers, China led in 2008 with 83.4 million fixed broadband users, accounting for 53.8 percent of the region's total subscriber base. Japan followed with 30 million subscribers, while South Korea was next with 15.5 million.

In 2010, the year when most government-initiated projects are earmarked for full-scale roll-out, broadband users in the region will cross the 200-million-mark to close the year with 212.6 million users, the analyst firm predicts.

From 2009 to 2014, Frost & Sullivan said, the broadband subscriber base in the Asia-Pacific region including Japan will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.1 percent, reaching 342.9 million subscribers by end-2014.

In 2014, the region's household broadband penetration would have risen to 37.2 percent, as compared to about 18 percent last year, accounting for estimated revenues of US$69 billion.

"Consumer appetite for broadband will be spurred by the demand for high throughput value-added services such as IPTV (Internet Protocol television) and video-on-demand," said Najam.

Services such as Web 2.0, social networking, file-sharing, online games and the falling PC prices and availability of low-cost netbooks have fueled the need for broadband consumption, he added.

Najam said both mobile and fixed broadband services should co-exist. "In the age of convergence and multiplay services, both wireless and wireline broadband should be viewed as complementing technologies to offer subscribers with blended services."

While mobile broadband has significantly lower throughput than fixed access, it provides users with the convenience of "on-the-go" connectivity, he added.

Based in Singapore, Konrad Foo is an intern with ZDNet Asia.


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