Broadband innovator

Robert Clark
Telecom Asia

Best Fixed-Line & Broadband Carrier

 Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN)

Last year's winner:StarHub
Business segments: Fixed-line broadband, VoIP, IPTV
Chairman:Ricky Wong
CEO:William Yeung
Key shareholders:City Telecom International Ltd 100%
Key stats: (Interim results - six months to Feb 28) profit $9.69m (up 50% over previous period), revenue $35m;
(Dec 31) 1m subs, 443,000 broadband subs

With five fiber networks around the CBD and four retail broadband systems reaching out to the suburbs, it's hard to imagine a city more intensively wired than Hong Kong.

Which makes Hong Kong Broadband Network's achievement in swallowing 90% of the broadband subs growth last year even more impressive. In doing so it became the city's second largest ISP, reaching the one million-milestone for total broadband, TV and VoIP subs last December.

Not bad for a company that began as a callback operator 18 years ago. The broadband arm of listed company CTI, HKBN's "audacious goal" is to be the SAR's  No.1 ISP by 2016.

Says To Wai Bin, managing director of business development: "Two years ago we were wondering whether we could do that. Today we are wondering when."

The cornerstone of HKBN's success is the revolutionary decision it took ten years ago to use Metro Ethernet topology to connect Hong Kong's high-density urban areas.

The result is one of the world's lowest cost-per-subscriber broadband networks.  It has spent just $400 million to get coverage of 77% of Hong Kong's 2.3 million homes. Its aim is to reach 90%, or two million households, by the end of 2011.

The company has pressed its advantage with what are surely the world's best broadband offers: 100-Mbps service for just $13 a month and, its newest bargain, 1-Gbps for $26.

Thanks to Ethernet, these services are all symmetrical. The fast proliferation of HKBN's two-way broadband is helping to change Hong Kong's internet culture, says To.

"Hong Kong has become an upload market," she told Telecom Asia. "We have noticed in the past two years that there's a lot more upload." Hong Kong users are accustomed to uploading photos and fat video files to YouTube, Facebook and other sites, she says.

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