Malaysia's HSBB leading APAC NBN charge

Dylan Bushell-Embling
15 May 2012

Malaysia's high speed broadband (HSBB) fiber network is well ahead of Asia-Pacific's other state-led NBN projects in terms of reach and subscriber base, research shows.

Informa Telecoms and Media estimates that the HSBB had 310,000 subscribers and passed 1.2 million premises by the end of April.

This reach is just behind the 1.3 million households scheduled to be passed by the end of the year, and at the current rate of growth the network should be rolled out on time and under budget, Informa said.

HSBB is an open-access network which is 70% owned by incumbent operator Telekom Malaysia, and 30% owned by the Malaysian government.

Telekom Malaysia was awarded the 11.3 billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) public private partnership contract for the HSBB without a tender in 2008.

The HSBB was originally intended to cover just 20% of total homes in Malaysia, but Informa said the rollout has gone so smoothly that several state governments have expressed an interest in extending the project into their territory.

Malaysia's HSBB adoption places it well ahead of its nearest rival by customer take-up, Singapore's NG-NBN.

As of the end of April, NG-NBN adoption was at just 130,000. And while it passes 90% of homes in the city-state, it is not available to the majority of households due to delays deploying in-building wiring.

Australia's A$43 billion ($42.9 billion) NBN has meanwhile only signed up 7,000 customers, and passed 18,000 homes. New Zealand's UFB covers 50,000 premises but so far has just 500 subscribers.

Brown attributed Malaysia's head start to the fact that the other projects required the establishment of new and independent entities to build and operate their networks. “That has taken a lot of time and created some significant teething problems, especially in Australia,” he said.

But he added that the Malaysian government's decision not to create an independent wholesale network operator could cause problems in the long run.

Last week, FTTH Council Asia-Pacific published research showing that APAC has 75% of the world's FTTH/B customers, with the region's subscriber base growing 28% in 2011. So far the NBN projects only account for a small portion of this growth.

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