Asian high-speed broadband and the cloud
For most of them this includes a combination of fixed broadband (GPON technology) of at least 100Mbps for urban residents and mobile broadband (4G technology). The justifications for often spending public money to achieve these broadband access goals are twofold: human rights (i.e., the right to access basic services like water and education) and economic growth.
Implementation of announced policies and strategies vary. At one end of the spectrum are countries that are implementing aggressive Fibre To The Home (FTTH) rollouts with potential 1 Gbps bandwidth that would support interactive 3D video streaming and other cloud-based services.
The progress of next-gen broadband projects in the following countries is well-documented: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. They often far exceed the plans of the USA to provide what is often labelled as ultra-fast broadband (100 Mbps) to 75% of homes by 2020.
At the other end of the spectrum are countries planning to provide 5 Mbps broadband availability to most of their citizens (urban and rural) by 2015. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam are executing on such plans, which will provide users access to basic cloud service with little media-rich content. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum are China, New Zealand, and Thailand.
Need, pricing will drive adoption
Service availability does not necessarily translate into adoption, however.
Adoption will often depend on perceived necessity and the price of the new service compared to alternatives. For example, in some countries mobile broadband via 3G/4G is often perceived to be a better choice. While the price-bandwidth figure may not be as favourable, users may prefer to access broadband via a smart phone or tablet with roaming/nomadic access.
The traditional mobile phone services combined with cloud/data services provide a richer experience and often include a bundle of services. As an example in the USA, 4G coverage is better than high speed broadband and is often complemented by carrier Wi-Fi.
In addition, the cost (installation and extra monthly charge) of the move to high-speed broadband vs. traditional ADSL/cable broadband is sometimes seen as prohibitive. This is often the case if the comparison is made in the context of the existing value one derives from broadband. Part of the success of a national broadband program needs to include a change management programme that highlights concrete benefits of making the switch to the new service.
One of the principles of the CRI is to evaluate the ten parameters based on published data as opposed to attempt to assign a numerical value to the strategy and execution of a specific government policy.
While we applaud the policies of governments in Asia to deploy high speed broadband on a national level, we prefer to measure their national broadband results by using actual bandwidth from end-points to servers.
For the CRI 2013, we are using the figures compiled by Akamai in their State of the Internet report for Q42012. Using the product of the average peak bandwidth multiplied by the percentage of users who have access to more than 4 Mbps of bandwidth, we arrive at a figure that we normalize to a factor of ten.
This methodology may not pass a stringent test of rigour, but we feel that it provides an adequate measure of comparing the achievements of countries in providing a bridge to the digital divide and increase their readiness to provide access to cloud computing services.