Japan passes South Korea in Asian broadband league

Japan has moved into the number one position in Asia in terms of the total number of broadband subscriptions, according to the latest official statistics from several countries.

Japan had 8.5 million digital subscriber line (DSL) subscribers at the end of July, representing an increase of 284,000 on the prior month, according to figures released Monday by Japan’s Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT).

When the 284,000 new DSL customers are added to June’s total broadband user base of 10.9 million, which includes optical fibre and cable Internet, the total number of broadband users is over 11 million.

Full figures for July, which will also include new fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and cable Internet subscribers, will be released toward the end of this month by the MPHPT. They should be higher still, assuming both FTTH and cable Internet services continue the trend of monthly subscriber growth.

Even if only the DSL subscriber figures for July are added to the June broadband total, Japan still moves ahead of South Korea in the total number of broadband connections by about 10,000 subscribers. South Korea counted 11.2 million broadband connections at the end of July, according to figures recently released by its Ministry of Information and Communication.

Another Asian country with a large and fast-growing broadband user base is China. Latest data from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) showed 9.8 million users at the end of June, a jump of more than 50 percent on the beginning of the year. CNNIC, which usually releases statistics every six months, doesn’t expect to publish the next figures until January 2004.

As for broadband penetration, South Korea still leads due to its smaller total population. Its has around 48 million people compared to Japan’s roughly 125 million people and China’s 1.3 billion people.

In Japan, the fastest growing sector of the broadband market, based on month-on-month percentage growth, is FTTH. Japan had over 458,000 FTTH subscribers at the end of June when the month-on-month increase hit a new record just shy of 60,000 subscribers, said the MPHPT.

The market is being driven by aggressive promotions from Internet service providers (ISPs), which are eager to push optical services as a replacement for DSL. For example, Sony Communications Network Inc. is offering six months free to new FTTH subscribers and then a monthly charge of