FTTH Council APAC: focus on monetization

Keynote sessions for the second day of the annual FTTH Council Asia Pacific Conference focused on real-life business models and network monetization.

No debates about the need for fiber

Sometimes what's not said is more important than what is said. Day two covered FTTH rollouts in Singapore, Japan, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, and New Zealand.

The words DSL, bonding, and vectoring were not mentioned. There were no debates around the need for fiber. There were discussions around FTTH pricing plans and decommissioning the copper plant.

FTTH service differentiation

In the wholesale-retail model, retail service providers must differentiate through service offerings rather than on basic FTTH network availability. Families seeking bandwidth, often referred to as bandwidth seekers, have choices regarding which service provider they choose.

Let's compare and contrast for a moment. In the US, a bandwidth seeker may have the choice between Verizon's FiOS and a cable operator such as Comcast. Or the bandwidth seeker may have a choice between a DSL-based network from AT&T and a cable operator. The evaluation of the service providers begins with evaluation of the different underlying networks.

Contrast this to the situation in Singapore, where the bandwidth seeker has a choice of services from multiple retailers where the underlying network is the same fiber. The evaluation is not around the medium but around the services running on top of the medium. Case in point: one retailer in Singapore is focusing on high-end gamers.

Planning for business services

This year, a number of presenters discussed FTTx network planning encompassing homes, enterprises, and mobile backhaul. FTTx PON has been supporting mobile traffic backhaul for many years, but this application is rapidly garnering attention with the onslaught of 3G, 4G LTE, and small cells. And while small cells will help relieve capacity constraints on macrocells, data traffic will still need to be backhauled.

Operators see FTTx for business services as a way to expand revenues, leading to faster network monetization. This led to discussions about whether operators might discriminate against residential subscribers if business services offer higher revenue streams. Certainly commissions such as the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) will keep an eye on this.

Looking back, looking ahead

The Council's conference continues to mirror the growth of FTTH in Asia-Pacific, moving from planning to implementation to operations to subscriber services. Asia-Pacific has reason to boast, given four countries with FTTx household penetration of 40% or higher.

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