Equal access is broadband's bigger problem now

Joseph Waring
21 Jun 2011
00:00

Fixed broadband household penetration in developing markets such as China, the Philippines and Vietnam is on track to pass the 50% mark by the end of the decade. But while regional broadband growth is strong, according to Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson, a number of major non-technical challenges are impeding many markets.

“Some markets are at risk of being left behind and will need some central intervention to avoid that outcome,” he says.

The region is home to a mix of mature, emerging and youth markets. “In Asia at the country level it is clear that the international digital divide will remain a fact of life to the end of the decade and beyond,” says Johnson. He noted that if you look more closely at the differences between cities and rural areas the divides are even greater. “The national challenges are not so much how to deliver ever-faster broadband services but how to provide them across whole countries,” he pointed out.

A year ago the ITU called on governments of the world to push for 50% global broadband penetration by 2015. It said the number of internet users doubled between 2004 and 2009, with global internet penetration hitting 26% – but only one in ten homes in developing countries had access to the internet.

The deployment of next-generation networks, using a combination of technologies across the region, is allowing service providers to deliver innovative offerings to their users who have pent-up demand for services such as multi-play packages, IPTV, fixed-mobile convergence and sophisticated enterprise solutions.

Johnson explained that factors shaping this dynamic market include gross national income, the growth of urban populations, national regulatory environments and the spending plans and policies of governments in the region. For fixed broadband to be competitive and affordable to the masses, he says “it’s essential that competition in broadband markets is free and fair.”

Johnson presents tomorrow (June 22 at 2:00 pm) on “Broadband Trends in Asia” as part of the Next Generation Broadband Infrastructure track at the CommunicAsia2011 Summit.

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