Revenue opportunity from fibre-based broadband services is $32 billion: Study

MUMBAI: The total revenue opportunity from fibre-based broadband services is estimated to be approximately $32 billion across the four leading emerging markets in Asia–Pacific - India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, to realise this opportunity, government involvement and financial support is essential, particularly in rural areas, in order to drive broadband penetration.

This is the conclusion of a recently released report from Analysys Mason entitled ‘Analysis of rural fibre deployments in selected Asia–Pacific countries: India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam’, commissioned by the Regulation and Policy Committee of the Fibre to the Home Council Asia–Pacific.
Of the estimated $32 billion revenue opportunity, $29.2 billion exists in urban areas, while $2.7 billion lies in rural areas, primarily through shared access model.

The report was released at the sixth Annual FTTH Asia Pacific
Conference in New Delhi by India’s Cabinet Minister for Rural
Development and Panchayati Raj Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Releasing the report, Deshmukh added that while it is well known that there is immense business potential in the rural areas, adequate and updated data is often unavailable to corroborate the same. In this regard, he commended the efforts of the FTTH Asia Pacific Council to bring out this authentic and well researched report, which he said would be of immense use to policy makers and businesses in the region.

The report highlights the $3 billion opportunity in improving
broadband access in the rural areas through shared access networks.

The study was conducted by Analysys Mason with a mandate to analyse the high-level economics of fibre-optic deployment, key enablers, challenges, government policies and regulations and funding support for providing broadband to rural communities in four Asia–Pacific countries. This study adds to the knowledge base of the FTTH Council’s Regulation and Policy Committee, which is frequently called upon by governments in Asia to consult on measures to boost fiber
broadband penetration and increase national competitiveness.

Fiber to the Home Council Asia-Pacific president Frank Jaffer said, “Within the greater Asia-Pacific region, there are over 2 billion people living in rural communities. Even for the 20% of rural households that have broadband connectivity, there are unique requirements for fibre deployments. For the remaining 80 per cent, the challenges to realizing high-speed connectivity are much greater. The FTTH Council Asia Pacific sponsored this study so that we advance the understanding of these challenges, and help propose fibre broadband solutions that make sense to rural communities throughout our region.”

Fiber to the Home Council, APAC chair, Regulation and Policy Committee Jay Teborek said, “The Regulation and Policy Committee has provided policy and implementation consultation to eight governments in Asia for their national broadband projects. In all these countries, the implementation of fibre to cover rural areas is a particularly difficult issue. This is true in both developed and developing economies, and our Committee wanted to enhance our ability to provide assistance to governments struggling with rural fibre planning.

“We designed the study scope to analyse rural market demographics, deployment obstacles, financial hurdles, and effective drivers for fibre penetration in Asia’s rural communities. We are pleased with the results. Our research partner, Analysys Mason, provides significant detail in these areas, as well as an insightful and powerful deployment forecasting tool which could allow governments to assess
deployment costs specific to rural fibre installations.”

In urban areas the major drivers for FTTx adoption are consumers’ use of rich entertainment services and broadband demand from enterprises. However, in rural areas, it is livelihood-enhancing services such as governance, education, healthcare and agriculture, which have a direct impact on the livelihood of the rural population that will drive the adoption of broadband services. To efficiently deliver these services, especially those based on shared access,fibre-based infrastructure is important. Analysys Mason expectsthe total FTTx opportunity in rural areas of the four countries to be about 12.5 million connections, from both shared and individual access.

Analysys Mason partner and director India Kunal Bajaj said,
“Evaluation of the economics involved in providing broadband in rural areas across emerging markets indicates that there exists a significant business viability gap for service providers. This makes it important for the government to support this initiative for faster deployment. However, it is always a challenge for governments to determine the order of magnitude of investment required to provide universal access to broadband. An efficient way to estimate the required investment would be to map the fibre-optic deployment alongside the existing rural road infrastructure.”

To drive broadband adoption, various initiatives are required in the areas of infrastructure, affordability, and availability of relevant local content and services. A robust National Broadband Plan addressing all these aspects, and with active participation from private-sector players will be the key in increasing rural broadband penetration across these markets. While Thailand has already taken this initiative, India, Indonesia and Vietnam will need to focus on developing a framework to support universal access to broadband services.

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