Asia Express - East Asian ICT
Data Communications - Fiber-Optic Service Outpacing ADSL in Japan
November 10, 2004
New statistics released this week by Japan's Ministry of Communications have revealed that ADSL (Asymmetrical-Digital-Subscriber-Line) growth is slowing, but the number of subscribers to fiber-optic service is on the rise.


Net growth for DSL service in the month of September fell to 190,000 subscribers. It was the first time in three years that the monthly total for new DSL subscribers was less than 200,000. The total number of new subscribers was less than half of the peak reached in December 2002, when subscribers grew by 528,000.


The Yahoo! BB ADSL service offered by Softbank posted a net gain of 64,000 subscribers in September, less than half the level of last year and below 70,000 for the first time since May 2002. NTT East and West, Softbank's biggest competitors, also experienced a slowdown in subscriber growth with a net gain of only 83,500. In fact, September marked NTT's worst monthly performance in ADSL since January 2002.


Meanwhile, fiber-optic services are growing in popularity, with total subscriptions topping 1.6 million. Despite lackluster net subscriber growth in the broadband market as a whole, the fiber-optic segment has been a remarkable exception, registering steady gains of nearly 100,000 per month. For NTT, fiber-optic services account for about 40% of its total subscriber growth in the broadband market.


A fiber-optic internet connection boasts a maximum speed of 100Mbps, twice as fast as ADSL. Fiber-optic services tend to cost more than ADSL, but lower fees offered to subscribers living in condominiums and apartments have led many users to make the shift away from ADSL.