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Broadband: Why Asia Leads and U.S. Lags

The U.S. federal government has received nearly 2200 applications requesting nearly $28 billion in stimulus funding for proposed broadband projects. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service will pick the winning applicants and announce them in November.

The sobering reality, even if all those applications were approved and funded (clearly, they won't be with only $4 billion available), America would still be a distant laggard in the Global Networked Economy, when compared to the recognized market leaders worldwide.

"The future of broadband is clearly in fiber," according to analyst, Ben Piper, Director of the Strategy Analytics. "The existing Telco xDSL infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life. Soon it will no longer be able to support increasingly bandwidth-heavy consumer applications."

Rankings just released by Strategy Analytics show that eight of the world's top-ten most fiber broadband-enabled countries are Asian and Eastern European. At the end of 2009, 51 percent of South Korean households will have a fiber optic connection to the Internet, making it the most fiber-connected country worldwide.

Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Lithuania round out the top-five in the rankings. What seperates the market leaders from the followers? Meaningful broadband public policy and substantive government investment are deciding factors.

Singapore will overtake South Korea for the number one position by 2013, according to Strategy Analytics. Part of the Singaporean government's iN2015 initiative is the construction of a 1 Gbps Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network, currently underway, with mandated 100 percent coverage by January 1, 2013.

Likewise, Australia, which this year launched its $31 billion National Broadband Network (NBN), will catapult from 21st to 8th place worldwide by 2013, according to the Strategy Analytics assessment. The government-backed FTTP based solution aims to deliver 100 Mbps FTTP service to 90 percent of Australian households, schools, and businesses over the next eight years.

Strategy Analytics "Global Broadband Forecast: 1H'09" provides coverage of 60 countries in five discrete regions, and profiles a history and forecasts for the key metrics. Currently, the U.S. is ranked #14 in the list of fiber broadband-enabled countries, just behind United Arab Emirates.

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