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Fiber-To-The-Home Infiltrates Asia

An industry-sponsored group that promotes fiber-to-the-home launched a new council this week to evangelize the movement in several Asian countries.

The group, called Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Asia-Pacific, joins its North American and European counterparts as an affiliated chapter of the FTTH Council organization. The goal is to educate, promote and accelerate fiber in Greater China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The new council is made up of leading telecom, networking, infrastructure and communications-related companies, including Alcatel, Tyco Electronics, Cisco, Hitachi, Lucent, HP, IBM, Intel, Ericsson, Juniper Networks and Siemens.

The FTTH Council says the benefit of fiber access is that it provides a large capacity that can let businesses and residents fit all Internet, telephone and television/video services on a single access cable.

That, according to Shoichi Hanatani, president of the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific and senior director at Hitachi, can cut costs and further encourage the creation of new services.

"History will show that the creation of the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific marked the transition of telecommunications in our region, from the constraint of copper loops to the enormous capacity and rich services that are only possible on optical fiber-to-the-home networks," Hanatani said in a statement. "We see the introduction of FTTH as a global phenomenon."

In recent years, broadband industry watchers have included FTTP among a litany of emerging technologies that could one day replace copper-based DSL and cable modems.

A small number of independent carriers, housing developers and public/private partnerships have led the pack, especially in the United States. Large carriers, wary of the costs of buying and installing miles of fiber-optic cable, have proceeded cautiously.

Surveys of FTTH activity around the world, however, show that there are over a million subscribers connected with optical fiber access. The Asia-Pacific region leads the way with speed of deployment and numbers of deployments.

According to market research and consulting firm Dittberner Associates, the worldwide capital expenditures related to FTTH access technology will reach $22.8 billion in 2013, from an estimated $3.7 billion in 2004.

It predicts that the Asia-Pacific region will be the largest market for FTTH access technology with 52.8 percent of the total, or 12 billion dollars. China alone will account for a third of the region, with nearly 24 percent of the total market.

"FTTH access networks are a strategic infrastructure for a region, just as much as roads and airports," Colin Goodwin, a founding member of the board and broadband product manager for Ericsson, said in a statement. "Our studies show that regions equipped with True Broadband Internet access -- speeds of tens to hundreds of Mbps -- enjoy improved business performance and economic advantage."

The Asia-Pacific Council said it has already established teams of members that will work with governments, regulators, carriers and the telecommunications industry throughout the region, but it is always looking for new members.