|Issue:||Asia-Pacific II 2015|
|Topic:||FTTH enabling the contents for Smart TVs|
|Author:||Hasan Munasir Choudhury|
Hasan Munasir Choudhury, Director General, FTTH Council Asia-Pacific
Hasan Munasir Choudhury has been involved in the ICT sector for over ten years. He is a graduate of the City University of New York. Munasir started his career with Magnani Caruso Dutton, a creative agency in New York. Soon after he joined Netcom Information Technology, a training institute in New York in 2003. He later joined the startup team of a WLL based GSM operator in Bangladesh. In 2007, as Project Manager of Fiber@Home Bangladesh Ltd.; Munasir lead the deployment of the 1st GPON based FTTH Open Access Network in Bangladesh. Shortly after, LS Cable & Systems appointed him as their Country Representative for Telecommunication & FTTH business in Bangladesh. In 2012 he joined the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific as General Manager. In January 2015 Munasir took over the role of Director General at the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific.
FTTH has been a THE technology for pushing gigabit internet access to homes and it is being deployed in all parts of the world. Asia-Pacific region has seen the highest grown in FTTH deployments. Towards the end of 2014, FTTH connectivity reached a milestone of 100 million users in Asia-Pacific
Smart TVs have been around since late 2000. Top TV manufacturers have pretty much made Smart TV features available to their high-end and mid-range products. Many are now pushing it towards even the basic models. Prices of components have become more cheaper and popular open source platforms such as Android makes it easier for consumers to experience rich content on their big TV. With recent announcement from Samsung about their own Smart TV operating system Tizen and LG announcing WebOS based Smart TV; the competition for dominating the Smart TV arena is heating up. It is the killer applications such as Netflix, Youtube, Hulu that are changing consumer behavior, moving them away from the good old cable TV set top boxes. CNET on a recent article confirmed that Netflix has a paid subscriber base of more than 60 million worldwide. How are things shaping up for the future? According to Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) study, 45 percent of all U.S. TV households watch internet content on their TVs by early 2014 which is a staggering 17% more than 2013 when the number was hovering around 28%. With a projected 16.1 million app-enabled TV shipment by end of 2014, it will not be surprising to see Smart TV numbers beating forecast in 2015. All these indicate that Smart TV is here stay.
So how about the infrastructure that supports such bandwidth hungry applications that you run via Smart TV? Fiber based technology such as FTTH (Fiber to the Home) has made it possible to cater to the high speed demands. You are able to stream full HD contents from Nexflix thanks to the 50mbps or more connection you have at your home.
FTTH has been a THE technology for pushing gigabit internet access to homes and it is being deployed in all parts of the world. Asia-Pacific region has seen the highest grown in FTTH deployments. Towards the end of 2014, FTTH connectivity reached a milestone of 100 million users in Asia-Pacific. As per analyst firm IDATE, at the end of 2014 there were 74 players in the region involved with FTTH/B deployments. Places such as Japan, Korea and Hong Kong has got one of the highest penetration of FTTH. It is interesting to see that high speed contents have also developed in these regions quite rapidly and the possible reason being there is infrastructure which is in place to support such high bandwidth demanding services. Countries like Singapore is making it a mandatory requirement to have fiber connectivity installed in every single house. In terms of number of subscribers, China is the main worldwide market leader while India, Indonesia are expected to join in with huge subscriber numbers in the coming years. IDATE forecasts show that by 2019 more than 174 million in Asia-Pacific will have access to the FTTH/B technology with an extraordinary 425 million homes passed with this FTTH/B technology.
In the US, Google Fiber’s entry has made a significant impact on existing operators as they are pushed to upgrade their decades old copper infrastructure to Fiber. Google offers an aggressive gigabit connectivity to many cities in the US. HD contents are being pushed through this fiber infrastructure without any constraint what so ever. AT&T offers high speed internet through its U-Verse package and thanks to Google Fibers push towards gigabit speed; AT&T recently moved to their own gigabit program called AT&T Gigapower. Other major player Verizon has been trying to match the competition. Verizon with its own FiOS Quantum service are offering consumers up to 500mbps of speed.
The European market is also geared up to towards adoption of FTTH. Interestingly countries such as Lithuania (Ranked 1), Latvia (Ranked 3), Russia (Ranked 4) and Romania (Ranked 5) are leading the European pack with highest household penetration according to a recent European FTTH/B ranking by analyst firm IDATE. However, we also see countries such as Sweden (Ranked 2), Norway (Ranked 6) and Portugal (Ranked 7) in near proximity. As per IDATE, at the end of 2014 there were a staggering 330 projects that were taking place in 39 countries in the European region.
Turning our focus to Middle East and North Africa (MENA), more than 41 FTTH projects were on going towards last quarter of 2014 as per IDATE. Year on year subscriber grown has been +33.2% (Ref: FTTH MENA Market Panorama at September 2014). It is in MENA, United Arab Emirates is leading the Global Ranking in FTTH.
Other areas where FTTH has started to make strides are Latin American nations as well as in Africa. Due to presence of very dated infrastructure, it is becoming easier for carriers to overhaul the network to a fiber based infrastructure where as in the most mature markets it may be a challenge as major investments have gone in to copper infrastructure for years. Sooner or later it is expected to change. As more and more competitors line up with fast reliable fiber based solution providing rich contents for our TVs, the incumbents are then forced to switch strategy and start upgrading their network.
So what is to come in the future ? 4K TVs are already here. Netflix is the first major player to start streaming 4K contents. Speed requirement ? 50+ mbps and can go up even more depending on the type of compression used for 4K streaming. If you have two or more TVs in the house, you are already crossing 100mbps and that is just for your TVs use only. Japan has announced that 2020 Olympics will have a 8K broadcast. There are many references to what kind of bandwidth we are talking about for streaming 8K contents to our Smart TV and that’s when we start exiting the “mbps” scenario and get in to the “gbps” arena. The bottle neck will not be availability of Ultra HD TVs or sophisticated Smart TV platforms or even the availability of contents. It will come down to the infrastructure that can support the ultra high speed requirements. And FTTH is here to meet that demand.