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FTTH growth outstrips ADSL in Japan February 13, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in general, IT, Japan.
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Reported in the Nikkei today (2/13), for the 3 month period between July and September 2005, more than 0.5 million new FTTH connections were made, compared to 223,000 ADSL connections. Whilst ADSL (speeds upto 54Mbps available here in Japan) still has about 3 times as many subscribers in total, FTTH has outstripped ADSL growth and we can expect 5 million homes connected to FTTH connections by end March 2006.

FTTH connections are available starting at about $50 (for 100Mbps access, upto a theoretical 1Gbps for $80 including ISP charges)
Of note is the dominance of NTT in the physical FTTH market. NTT accounts for 2.35million of the 3.73million connections, approximately 63% (combined total of NTT east and NTT west who do not compete with each other due to the geographical restrictions imposed on both companies when NTT was split up).

3rd in the list was UCOM, a member of the USEN group, a multimedia provider whose original business was piping music down fixed lines to shops, hotels, restaurants and households.  They had 377,000 connections.

The rest of the top 10 providers comprised of providers affiliated with electricity companies (who use their electricity pylons to support fiber along with the wires carrying electricity), property developers (providing access for the inhabitants of their developments), and independent telcos.

Japanese users often have a choice of ISP regardless of the ownership of the physical fiber connecting their home to the ISP PoP in the local telco exchange, although more often than not, users appear to find it convenient  to go with the ISP provided by the fiber owner. The NTT group owns several ISPs, and their largest (OCN) is the largest FTTH ISP with approx 0.75M subscribers, and another NTT ISP “Plala” has 0.4M subscribers. Large independent ISPs such as NEC affiliated BIGLOBE and Fujitsu affiliated @Nifty have more than 300,000 FTTH subscribers each (alongside many more subscribers on ADSL and ISDN, dial-up), but clearly NTT is in a strong position here also.

Many ISPs have started premium services such as high quality VoD, and it may be a matter of time before a debate also starts raging in Japan about ISPs reserving bandwidth for themselves at the cost of reduced bandwidth available to access open internet sites.

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