Fast, cheap and guaranteed

John C. Tanner
17 May 2011

Best Fixed-line and Broadband Carrier

Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN)

Last year's winner: HKBN
CEO: William Yeung
Key shareholders: City Telecom
Key stats (Half year ending 28/2/11): 7.6% increase in FTNS revenue to HK$727.2m ($93.5m); 551,000 broadband subs, 159,000 IPTV subs; 1m 1-Gbps-ready FTTH lines

When Google announced Kansas City as the first US city to trial its planned 1-Gbps broadband service earler this year, HKBN CEO William Yeung's response was typically bolshy: been there, done that.

"They're welcome to come to us for advice," he grins.

Indeed, HKBN already offers 1-gig connections to 60% of its coverage area. Perhaps more notably, its minimum access speed is 100 Mbps, and until August last year it was available for HK$99 ($12) a month (it's now HK$169/month, which is still cheap by most standards on a per-megabit basis).

"That's why last year our market share growth represented 91% of the net Hong Kong broadband market growth, according to Ofta," says Yeung. "And because the minimum broadband speed is 100 Mbps, our customers experience good uplink and downlink speeds. From that we have better word of mouth. So apart from the customers we acquired, we also retained more customers, so our churn rate is far below 1% per month."

Another key factor in maintaining that experience, says Yeung, is HKBN's willingness to guarantee that users can achieve at least 80% of their designated access speed, which HKBN can do because it deploys enough routers in high-rise buildings to handle the load.

"Our technology allows us to provide 100 Mbps at a distance of 100 meters from our router to your home," he explains. "If you imagine a 30-40 floor building, we would have routers every ten floors, so we can look after everyone five floors above and five floors down."

Yeung adds that bandwidth guarantees for residential users is only a differentiator for broadband operators willing to put in the investment required. "Our competitors could give the same guarantee, but they have to be willing to swap out copper for fiber, do the tedious work for the last mile, swapping old equipment for new equipment, and they need the patience to wait for the upsurge in demand for customers who are paying less per month for more bandwidth."

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