Sydney, Oct 15, 2007 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Asia has been providing serious global leadership in its application of FttH. Not appearing to be constrained by the same desire to protect legacy networks that is found in other parts of the world, a number of Asian markets are already pushing strongly into fibre networks in various forms. With Japan out in front yet again, FttH has quickly emerged as a serious broadband platform in that country. The technology in Japan has jumped from 1.5 million FttH subscribers in mid-2004 to around 10 million in mid-2007. In fact, FttH subscribers in the country comprise over 32% of the country's total broadband subscriber base. The rapid expansion into fibre has seen the number of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services peak in early 2006 and they have since moved into decline. This is significant as Japan's initial broadband development was built on the back of DSL.

Apart from Japan, it comes as no surprise that the movement towards fibre in Asia has been occurring in the more developed markets. However, the adoption rate varies considerably from market to market. In South Korea, for example, the situation is complicated by the use of both fibre and fibre-hybrid infrastructure to deliver broadband services. Whilst number of FttH subscribers is relatively small in South Korea, there has been strong growth in FttC and FttN services, which in turn support other platforms to deliver service to the premises. Other Asian markets, like Singapore and Taiwan, are busy with pilot FttH networks and early commercial activity. Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom has an ambitious plan to cover the island with fibre and was aiming for 2.5 million FttH subscribers by 2011. China has also been making positive statements about FttH roll-outs. Interestingly, the development of FttH sat in 11th priority position in China's five-year plan published in 2005. With the 2008 Beijing Olympics fast approaching, China Netcom said it was making extensive use of fibre as its broadband platform of choice in preparation. China Telecom has announced plans to have FttH established nationwide by 2010.

The US fibre-to-the-home (FttH) market reached more than two million subscribers by September 2007, according to figures released by the FttH Council and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). This amounts to more than 100% growth since September 2006, driven largely by Verizon's ambitious FiOS network deployment. The number of homes passed has grown by more than 50%, from around six million to nine-and-a-half million. The take-up rate has thus increased from around 15% to 20%, principally due to the active marketing of the networks in 2007.

The largest FttH network is Verizon's, which has been deployed to around 4 million households in twelve states and reported more than 500,000 subscribers in June 2007. However, its target of passing 18 million households (between three and four million subscribers) by 2010 indicate that it does not yet regard FttH to be an economical replacement for all of its DSL network, which currently passes around 33 million households.

The other major fibre protagonist is AT&T, whose fibre strategy, comprising a Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) network with VDSL2, is starting to gain momentum after some initial technological glitches related to Microsoft's IPTV platform. By September 2007 it had reached around 100,000 subscribers from approximately five million homes passed. AT&T's U-Verse TV uses an all-IPTV architecture with a per household deployment cost estimated at around half that of Verizon's FiOS TV service. Thus although AT&T's FttN-VDSL2 solution will not provide as high broadband speeds as Verizon's FttH network, it may soon surpass Verizon's subscriber numbers, albeit in different footprints. Ultimately, with nearly half of all US households expected to be passed by some form of fibre network by 2010, the cable-TV companies will need to address this growing threat to their TV-markets.

In coming years Europe will be one of the world''s more vibrant regions for fibre deployment. The Key countries remain Sweden and The Netherlands, both of which have pooled government, municipal and telco resources in a coordinated response to future-proof national and regional infrastructure. This is partly to meet growing consumer needs for higher bandwidth applications, but also with an eye to practical social welfare solutions (e-learning, e-health) and economic security in an internationally competitive environment.

This co-operation between governments and telcos helps to manage investments and avoid financial difficulties and unnecessary network duplication. The Netherlands has also demonstrated that fibre networks can be built from the ground up without government subsidies. In mid-2007 there were some 25 Dutch municipalities involved in or making preparations for broadband projects based on fibre, and more than 40 fibre projects.

The UK''s regulator recently launched a consultation (closing in December 2007) to evaluate approaches for promoting fibre as a long-term successor to existing copper. This anticipates that BT''s 21CN may be insufficient for future bandwidth demand, and that guarantees may be needed to encourage operator investments in the sector. The UK''s interest in a national fibre network, costing up to £15 billion, is sure to have repercussions in other European markets.

FttH Roundtable

International case studies will assist Australia in finding its strategic way forward and will be discussed in the following sessions:

- Overview of strategic fibre plans in the Asia Pacific region - Frank Jaffer, Vice-President, FttH Council Asia-Pac.

- Case Study FttH in Amsterdam and other European projects - Martin Stewart-Weeks, Director, Public Sector (Asia Pacific), Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco Systems Australia.

Senator Stephen Conroy, Shadow Minister for Communications will open the Roundtable and will lead a discussion on the strategic fibreing of Australia.

Strategies for Fibreing Australia - Roundtable with Paul Budde and Industry Experts
Thursday 18 October 2007 - Opening address by Senator Stephen Conroy, Shadow Minister for Communications. Venue: The Observatory Hotel, 89-113 Kent Street, Sydney

Bookings and information:


PAUL BUDDE Communication Pty Ltd,
T/As BuddeComm
5385 George Downes Drive
Ph 02 49 988 144 (international x 61 2 4998 8144)
Fx 02 49 988 247 (international x 61 2 4998 8247)

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