Broadband as Utility

Business 2.0 writes about City Telecom of Hong Kong:

City Telecom [is] a Hong Kong company that offers 100 megabits per second–65 times as fast as a typical DSL connection–for just $25 a month, with no phone or cable strings attached. Ricky Wong, founder and chief executive of City Telecom, describes his company as “a broadband utility.” City Telecom is already Hong Kong’s second-largest residential broadband provider, despite competition from PCCW, the area’s largest and oldest phone company; iCable, the dominant cable operator; and HGC Telecom, a firm backed by billionaire Li Ka-Shing. Now, in fact, those larger competitors have made it their mission to halt Wong’s progress. Says Dave Burstein, editor of industry newsletter “DSL Prime,” “City has inspired incumbents to sprint and catch up.”

In 2000, City Telecom spent $25 million to deliver residential Internet access, in part by using wireless transmitters perched on rooftops and cell-phone towers. The plan didn’t pan out–the wireless technology couldn’t pump enough bandwidth–but there was a silver lining: City Telecom had already installed Ethernet jacks in 1.2 million homes. The company regrouped by wiring each building to a fiber-optic trunk line, which in turn connected to the Internet.

The result is a citywide version of the local area networks found in many corporate offices.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.