North Asian countries lead the fixed broadband market but other Asian nations catching up
South Korea and Japan are the leading two countries in Asia with regards to internet penetration with penetration reaching 91% in 2016. Behind South Korea and Japan are Singapore (84%), Taiwan (83%), Azerbaijan (79%), and Hong Kong (79%). China leads in terms of overall number of internet users in 2016 (730 million), followed by India (290 million), Japan (115 million) and Indonesia (63.1 million).
The expansion of broadband was for a long time a phenomenon limited to the developed economies, with narrowband dial-up access being the norm in the majority of the poorer developing countries of the region. However this has been gradually changing. In those economies, there is now increasing access to broadband, both DSL and cable modem platforms have both proved popular, with DSL establishing a clear advantage. More recently, we have seen the arrival of FttX as an alternative platform for broadband access in Asia. There also continues to be considerable activity in the broadband markets across Asia including amongst the many number of smaller countries such as Azerbaijan, Maldives and Macau.
China leads the fixed broadband market in terms of both overall subscribers and market penetration. Subscribers reached 213 million in 2016 and market penetration reached 53%. Although China boasts the largest number of broadband connections in the world, annual growth rates are subsiding as housing penetration reaches levels indicative of market maturity. China Telecom and China Unicom are the largest suppliers of fixed broadband. Fixed broadband levels in China are expected to continue rise more gradually due to a confluence of factors that includes telecom operators seeking revenue growth, a government seeking to reach ambitious targets, the increasing wealth of end users and digital media giants seeking new audiences.
South Korea holds second place with fixed broadband subscriber penetration of 41% in 2016. The move towards faster speeds and becoming full-service operators is expected to drive further growth. FttX deployments have increased as operators try to gain customers through bundled services such as high-definition IPTV. Broadband subscription rates in South Korea are low at less than US$30 per month for speeds over 100Mb/s.
Hong Kong takes third place with fixed broadband subscriber penetration of 32% in 2016. Broadband subscriber growth in Hong Kong has flattened due to high fixed household broadband penetration and increased product substitution due to higher speed mobile broadband services based on HSPA and LTE.
However, fixed broadband services will continue to grow based on the sheer volume of data traffic as the market shifts from:
Key highlights of the fixed broadband market in Asia in 2016: