Observations from Japan

Broadband pentration in Japan rise to 13.6M or 29% of the household at the end of Dec 2003, according to MPHPT. This means there are nearly 5.8M new subscribers in the last 12 months. Following the trend, we are seeing about 1/2M new subscribers per month.

The main driver for this growth apparently are Broadband Phone and File Sharing. Broadband Phone, as you know, allows subscribers to make free phone calls to another fellow subscribers, even if you are calling from Tokyo to Kyoto.

File Sharing, on the other hand, is a more interesting trend. The poliferation of Personal Video Recorder (PVR) especially those that have external harddisk coupled with the Japan legistration that allows sharing of recorded shows with “members of the same household” means more people are getting Broadband so they can share these files.

(Incidently, the last time I was in Japan in Oct last year, the stores here are pack with PVR and external harddisks but this time round, I hardly see any…hmm…)

However, the broadband companies have already cut back on the marketing effort. And while there are 40Mbps broadband, not many people live near enough to the switch center to get such bandwidth. Instead, most of the broadband subscribers is on 8Mbps but that is still more then enough.

Looking at the trend, and the household pentration, I believe 5-6M new subscribers in Japan in 2004 is achievable and probably only slow down in 2005.

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