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Report: China Overtakes U.S. in Fixed Broadband Subscribers
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June 05, 2008

Report: China Overtakes U.S. in Fixed Broadband Subscribers

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

In a staggering show of how quickly broadband services are spreading in Asia, China this year overtook the United States as the largest fixed subscriber market, according to a new report.
Through March of this year, China added 4.8 million new subscribers, bringing its total to 71.6 million – a 28 percent increase from just one year ago and more than the United States’ 70.2 million, according to data from DITTBERNER.

According to James Health, director of broadband research at the Bethesda, Maryland-based market research firm, the only proposed revenue source for ultra-high bandwidth networks is video services such as HDTV and video on-demand.
“There is just not enough revenue in those services outside of North America, and in North America the MSOs (multiple cable TV system operators) can more economically deliver those services,” Heath said.
According to the report – called “Fixed Broadband Subscriber Survey: 1Q08” – DSL comprises 67 percent of all access technologies while cable modems slipped to 20 percent.
But the new technology to watch is not FTTH – the fiber optic cable connection that runs directly from a telephone switch to a subscriber’s home – but rather DOCSIS 3.0-based subscribers, DITTBERNER officials say.
The technology – short for “Data over Cable Service Interface Specification” – defines interface standards for cable modems and supporting equipment. The technology lets manufacturers produce cable modems for retail, so consumers no longer have to depend on leased cable modems from their cable providers. Devices that recognize and support the DOCSIS standard include HDTVs and Web enabled set-top boxes for regular televisions.
Hanaro Telecom (News - Alert) is the leader in this technology and since last summer has added more than 400,000 “100 Mbps HFC” subscribers, according to the report.
According to the report, providers such as JCOM in Japan, Essent in Holland and Videotron in Canada also have launched “100 Mbps HFC” services, “and the MSOs in the United States are trialing it,” DITTBERNER officials say.
According to the market research firm, in order to be profitable, broadband service providers must know their competition’s access technology’s benefits and limitations, determine what the consumer is willing to pay for video services and craft the access network to match what the customer is willing to pay.
“With Tru2way offering IPTV (News - Alert)-like interactive television and DOCSIS 3.0 offering ultra-high bandwidth without the high cost of fiber deployment, FTTH is not an obvious choice for future networks now,” the firm says.
China’s passing the United States in broadband subscriber volume comes as no surprise – the nation has been gaining 8 million subscribers per year on the United States, according to the firm. DITTBERNER officials say that Germany is showing very strong annual growth and gaining quickly on third-place Japan, but is unlikely to overtake that nation.
Here’s how the top-10 fixed broadband subscriber list looks, according to DITTBERNER, with statistics relevant as of March 31: China (71.6 million), United States (70.2 million), Japan (28.7 million), Germany (21 million), United Kingdom (16.4 million), France (16.2 million), Korea (14.7 million), Italy (10 million), Canada (9.5 million) and Spain (8.2 million).
Michael Dinan is a TMCNet Editor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is Fixed Service Strategies for Mobile Network Operators, brought to you by Comverse.

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