Broadband in Japan

WSJ writes about Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who is at the helm of the broadband revolution in Japan. Son was also one of the earliest investors in the Web.

Four years ago, only a fifth of Japan’s population of 127 million used the Internet, mostly through slow, expensive dial-up services. That figure has since doubled, and high-speed, or broadband, usage is soaring amid a price war that Mr. Son launched.

Japan had 11.8 million high-speed Internet subscribers as of August, up more than sevenfold from 1.6 million two years earlier. That gives it a broadband penetration rate of almost 10%, around U.S. levels.

Mr. Son’s Softbank has yet to make a yen from its broadband service, known as Yahoo BB…The market leader with three million subscribers, Softbank is still losing money on its broadband business — $264.5 million during the April-June quarter alone. Mr. Son says he plans to raise revenue while maintaining rock-bottom prices for Internet access by charging fees for new extra services, from video-on-demand to online gaming. But he’s vague on when the business will actually turn a profit.

Japan’s broadband race shows no signs of slowing. In July, Softbank unveiled a 26-megabit service. On Oct. 1, eAccess announced it would start the world’s first 40-megabit ADSL service, even as most U.S. ADSL providers are still struggling to offer 1.5 megabits per second. NTT East is expected to be close behind. Softbank won’t say whether it will follow suit.

The technology being used is ADSL.

Bandwidth is so critical. It can be a major productivity enhancer. In Mumbai, we pay USD 220 a month for an ADSL connection with 192 Kbps downstream and 64 Kbps downstream. I can only imagine – bandwidth in India is at least 100 times more expensive as compared to Japan or the US or South Korea. Most of us in India have never experienced broadband connecvitity. I keep seeing and reading about the telecom revolution. How about providing multi-megabit pipes for less than USD 50 a month – that will be the real revolution in India.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.