The seventh annual FTTH Council Asia-Pacific Conference got under way on May 9 in Shanghai, China. With deployments progressing in most countries in the region, the discussions moved to the real issues of FTTx network rollouts. Service providers shared successes and challenges. In parallel, the presentations by the vendors focused on solutions. As in the past, Ovum supported the council with an overview of FTTx subscriber data and forecasts for 16 countries in the region.
FTTx deployments are construction projects
FTTx conferences can easily get caught up in endless technology debates unless you enlist service providers that are in the midst of massive, multibillion-dollar FTTx network deployments. These deployments are literally construction projects, whether laying fiber in neighborhoods or pulling it into homes. Like most construction projects, funds are spent long before money begins to flow back in from subscribers.
Dr. Farid Mohammed Sani, chief strategy officer at Telekom Malaysia Berhad, discussed the importance of government financial support, particularly at the beginning of a project. Telekom Malaysia Berhad plans to spend around $2.9 billion over 10 years while the Malaysian government is providing $790 million over the first three years.
Graham Mitchell, chief executive of Crown Fibre Holdings in New Zealand, provided a similar perspective. The government of New Zealand is providing funds to help kick-start its FTTx network project, which will reach 75% of the population by 2019. New Zealand’s very low population density makes the economics of FTTx deployment quite different than in Japan, South Korea, or Singapore.
Remember the user perspective – even during the build
While building an FTTx network is a construction project, the end point is the subscriber’s living room. As Shanghai Telecom’s chief engineer Zhang Jun stated, not all homeowners understood that equipment would be mounted on a prominent wall in the living room.
The service provider presentations focused on the need to keep the subscriber perspective in mind. Subscribers do not care about the enabling technology; they care about the enabled services. Traditionally, service providers focused on telephony services and data. Very few have experience with content and value-added services, and they must quickly learn how to handle content in terms of operations and marketing.