Challenges to Asia’s Superfast Broadband and Next-Generation Video Services

01 December 2016

  • Fiber to the home coverage has become a key investment area in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Open innovation and Interoperability among infrastructure and customer premises equipment will ultimately reduce the long-term total cost of ownership of the broadband system.
  • As consumer expectations for video and entertainment are changing rapidly, service providers must choose an innovation partners to stay competitive.
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  • Fiber to the home coverage has become a key investment area in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Open innovation and Interoperability among infrastructure and customer premises equipment will ultimately reduce the long-term total cost of ownership of the broadband system.
  • As consumer expectations for video and entertainment are changing rapidly, service providers must choose an innovation partners to stay competitive.

Christophe Cazes, VP Sales, Connected Home Asia Pacific with Technicolor

Christophe Cazes, VP Sales, Connected Home Asia Pacific with Technicolor

Broadband infrastructure is a prerequisite for a competitive market in OTT video services, and the models for broadband infrastructure rollout in Asia Pacific are as diverse as the nations themselves. Christophe Cazes, VP Sales, Connected Home Asia Pacific with Technicolor, explains the issues facing providers of OTT services, and what Technicolor is doing to help them overcome these.

Christophe, thank you for taking the time to chat. Tell me a little bit about how you define your region. What are the countries involved?

Cazes: Basically two main areas: one is Southeast Asia; the other is Australia and New Zealand. This region is quite heterogeneous because it has, on one side, three or four countries that are advanced countries, developed countries like you have in the US and Europe: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and to a certain extent Malaysia. At the same time, you have emerging markets like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. That is what we have to deal with in this sub-region.

What do you see as the main drivers of demand for broadband and for broadband-based entertainment services like video?

Cazes: It’s quite interesting. In the four developed markets fiber rollouts are being driven by government initiatives rather than by private companies or telcos. The rollouts are being managed at the highest level of the governments to speed up the deployment of fast broadband as well as entertainment services and create a level playing field among operators and stir creativity. Whereas in the emerging markets, the initiative has been driven by telcos and other companies like power companies that are investing in fiber to grow as quickly as possible, leapfrogging their own DSL or cable modem technologies. We are witnessing very strong investment into fiber rollouts.

What are the key barriers that need to be overcome and the key issues to be addressed to bring broadband infrastructure as rapidly as possible into homes?

Cazes: There are a lot of interoperability issues in the emerging markets where the fiber rollouts are very much being driven by network infrastructure suppliers. Until they open up their networks, it is difficult for us to participate actively in those markets. It has been easier for us in the developed markets.. For example, in Australia we have deployed close to half a million gateways that have connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) through.

Interoperability issues are typically determined by the extent to which network operators have embraced an open or industry-wide collaboration approach to deploying technologies. How important is the adoption of an open innovation approach to fulfilling the full promise of video services in the region?

Cazes: The Broadband Forum has come up with a standard for the interface to fiber access networks. Unfortunately, it’s left to the operators to ensure conformance, and hence interoperability, and this has not happened.

China Telecom has been strong enough to enforce interoperability on network vendors, and there our Technicolor colleagues in Northeast Asia have been extremely successful. But in other markets were the operators have less bargaining power vis-à-vis the vendors, this has not happened.

What is Technicolor doing to support broadband adoption and the deployment of new video services in the region?

Cazes: We are trying to enable operators in the region to launch OTT as quickly as possible in a very efficient and simple way. The video operators in the region are taking the threat from Netflix coming into the market very seriously. Those telcos that were delivering some OTT content have started developing more and more local content and building regional platforms with regional content. They see this is as a way for them to fight against the Netflix invasion in this part of the world. We have also recently witnessed the fact that operators have in parallel engaged into serious negotiations to include Netflix in their bundles. When you can beat them, join them.

We are trying to help them by offering quick access to the market and hence we have embraced Android TV as a platform. We are one of the top three or four set top box companies that have been qualified by Google to make this happen. We are offering this to operators to enable them to offer OTT as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Looking ahead, what do you think are the prospects for expanding access to broadband services and access to entertainment services such as 4K and HDR and, down the line, even virtual reality services?

Cazes: We were the first company in the world to launch 4K set top boxes, two years ago in India for the Cricket World Cup. So, we made a very strong start. However, the issue in this region compared to the US and Europe is that 4K content is very scarce. So, I think 4K and virtual reality hold some potential for us in the developed markets such as Australia. But I think the emerging markets will take a bit of time to embrace those technologies. It is still important for us to prove to them we are technology partner for the long term by helping them with the issues they face today and showing them that, once they are ready to embrace 4K and HDR, we will be there to help them.

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