Monday, May 26, 2003

PAS climbs as ADSL, cable feed Chinese high-speed

In a recent study, Chinese Telecom Market: Overview and Analysis, Parks Associates forecasts some 13 million Chinese broadband users – as opposed to subscribers – for end-2003. The U.S. research outfit gives ADSL a 60% share of the broadband-access market, followed by fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) + Ethernet at 20%.

Michael Cai, an analyst at Parks, says ADSL will continue to dominate high-speed access going forward. He explains that Chinese telcos, which have heavily promoted hot-copper services and offered sign-up incentives, are getting a good ROI and that equipment prices continue to fall.

ADSL prices vary from region to region in China, Cai explains. In Beijing, users might have to pay up to RMB300 ($36)/month, while in the provincial cities, hot-copper services can be had for as little as RMB100. Cai said the latter tariff is reasonably affordable for a good number of Chinese, while the capital’s higher rates are also within reach for many in the more affluent city.

Cable modems account for just 15% of all high-speed subscriptions in China, with Shanghai the only city where the service is available legitimately. But Cai explained that the provision of high-speed cable offerings is a gray area and that the majority of cable networks are operated by municipalities that are eager to promote broadband services, so people are able to sign up for cable-based access in many cities.

Cai says Wi-Fi is still largely in test mode in China, but he points to efforts by China Netcom, China Telecom and China Mobile in the PWLAN arena (BM, 17 Feb, 2003).

He estimates there are some 20,000 Wi-Fi users in the country but does not believe the platform will rival the likes of ADSL and cable as an alternative means of high-speed access.

“Wi-Fi is more like a value-added service right now,” Cai said. “The telcos really don’t have it in mind to provide the platform in areas where there is no other form of high-speed access.”

Cai says powerline (PLC) could do well in China, though the technology is still nascent in the market. He points to FibrLINK Networks, a broadband SP backed by the State Power Telecommunications Center, which launched commercial PLC services following trials in two residential buildings in Beijing.

“PLC technologies use the existing power grid to transmit voice, video and data at high rates and could become a viable alternative for high-speed Internet service because of the ubiquity of power outlets and the no-new-wires advantage,” Cai said.

FibrLINK users pay RMB300 for a PLC modem, and access prices start at RMB100/month for speeds between 512 Kbps and 1.6 Mbps.

From the article "PAS climbs as ADSL, cable feed Chinese high-speed," by Steve Mullins.

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