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An Asian view of the evolution of fixed line broadband

Posted: 06 Jun 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:broadband? IPTV? HDTV? NGA? FTTH?

The debate over the deployment of Next-Generation Access (NGA) fiber broadband technologies for mobile and fixed services gained momentum in the recent Broadband & IPTV Asia Conference 2012. Speakers from different areas of related expertise shared their opinions on the various technology choices available.

Paul Summer, senior manager at Analysys Mason, cited the primary reason driving the need for NGA from the consumer's perspective is the kind of applications consumers are using. The use of HDTV channels that might be occurring simultaneously at multiple devices in a home requires high downstream bandwidth (20-25Mb/s). The use of closed services, such as in social networking sites, requires high upstream bandwidth (6-20Mb/s). The increasing use of smartphone devices on the broadband networks has resulted in the wireless operator's need to offload a lot of traffic on the fixed network. The consumer thus needs a symmetrical high-speed broadband network. Summer also mentioned that telco operators are relying on this demand as operational drivers for next-generation wired line. The governments are also relying on broadband and next-generation broadband to increase GDP growth, employment and basic international competitiveness.

Bernard Lee, R&D director, FTTH Council APAC, pointed out that Asia Pacific is the fastest growing fiber to the home (FTTH) market in the world. In the first quarter of the year2010, there were 7.6 million FTTH/B based broadband subscribers in America, 3.4 million in Europe and 39 million in Asia Pacific. The last quarter of 2010 saw a 6-million subscriber jump in Asia Pacific and it finally reached 58 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Lee pointed out that on an average there are 1500 new subscribers in Asia Pacific every hour. China, which had 21 million deployments at the end of 2011according to FTTH council reports, ranked second only to Japan by less than a million. China has deployed FTTH/B to only 26 percent of its population but is growing strongly and is expected to overtake Japan in absolute numbers soon.

The reports of FTTH council classify the countries according to the size and maturity of the FTTH/B based broadband markets. Japan and Korea are the champions as they have successfully deployed FTTH to 92 percent and 90 percent of their population respectively. China and India are the heavyweights, as only a small percentage of these countries have deployed FTTH providing a large market to grow. Taiwan, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand are small markets but have well organized deployment of FTTH broadband technology.

The speed of fiber according to the FTTH council stands at 2.5Gb/s mass deployment with gigabit passive optical network (GPON). It is standardized at 10Gb/s with ITU and IEEE with GPON/Ethernet passive optical network (EPON). Research is currently on-going for 100Gb/s speeds.

Lee also pointed out that bandwidth itself cannot be sold as a future application, as the faster you go, the revenue per bit is slower for FTTx based broadband network. Triple play is the way to bring value to a commodity product such as broadband. He maintained that the speed from FTTH based broadband networks will be consumed very soon but not by some future application. In Lee's words, "There is not one single killer application but a suite of applications that you can do on that one connection."

John Cioffi

Cioffi's research in DMT became widely adopted in DSL technology, thus his nickname: "Father of DSL."

John Cioffi, the CEO of ASSIA Inc., is also known as the "Father of DSL" for his research in discrete multitone modulation (DMT), which became widely adopted in DSL technology. Cioffi had a different opinion with statistics. According to him, there is a continuous increase in copper deploymentsboth in absolute numbers and as a percentage of total fixed broadband deployments. He pointed out that there are total 600 million broadband access fixed line subscribers, out of which 400 million are DSL based and that fraction continues to grow throughout the world.

Cioffi added, "The key thing here is to understand the economics. Putting fiber all the way to somebody's home costs several thousand dollars. For a service that provides 30-40 dollar return a month, there is no economic case for that. If you can service the need of required speed with copper, then there is no need for that expenditure."

DSL subscriptions or links are sometimes known to have lower speeds or have problems with retrain from noises or instability. ASSIA products are claimed to improve the quality of copper based broadband connections.

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