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KDDI: Japanese master of the Multi Technology Mix

Just like the nbn in Australia, Japanese operator KDDI is bringing high speed broadband to the market via a wide range of access technologies.

Japanese operator KDDI has its work cut out competing with cashed up incumbent operators NTT East and NTT West – which jointly control around 70% of total fibre-based broadband subscribers in the country – so has had to make smart decisions to stay competitive.

KDDI has long realised that it simply cannot build out an entire new Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network across Japan – it simply does not have the cash to do so – so has had to use a range of different technologies to reach subscribers.

KDDI already offer 1Gbps FTTP services to some subscribers and plans to launch 10Gbps services before year-end – with key rivals NTT East and NTT West also reportedly planning to launch 10Gbps services. At present the fastest FTTP speeds available in the Japanese market are 2Gbps available from operators such as So-Net.

Nonetheless, KDDI says that Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) services that use VDSL for the last-mile and HFC services – delivered by its subsidiary Jupiter Telecommunications (JCOM) remain a crucial part of the mixture.

“HFC is more important than ever for us”

Speaking at the Broadband World Forum Asia in Singapore last month senior KDDI executive Fumio Watanabe said that the harsh economic realities of the Japanese market – plus some technical issues – meant the company had to be technology agnostic.

“We cannot afford to run fibre to every premise so we have to look for other options,” Watanabe said.

In particular Watanabe said that the fact that KDDI could not use copper acceleration technology G.Fast inside Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs) – because the copper wires are accessed by multiple rival operators – meant that KDDI now saw huge value in its HFC network assets operated by JCOM.

“We don’t have control of in-building copper wiring so we cannot deploy Vectoring or G.Fast – so our HFC cable is more important than ever to us,” Watanabe said.

“JCOM is already delivering services of 320Mbps on Docsis 3.0 and we know that deploying Docsis 3.1 will help us deliver 1Gbps to our cable subscribers across the country, so we are closely looking at that.”

Delivering a fixed-broadband replacement

What’s more KDDI has also positioned itself as one of the leading mobile broadband providers in the global market with its subsidiary company UQ Communications delivering WiMAX high-speed mobile broadband to 10 million subscribers - delivering up to 220Mbps download speeds – with Watanabe saying KDDI is planning 440Mbps services soon.

With far greater data allowances than LTE based mobile broadband services the UQ Communications service has been positioned as a fixed-broadband replacement service, targeted at younger subscribers who want a ‘personal’ broadband service they can use at home or on the move.

Whilst Japan is a very different market to Australia the example set by KDDI – which continues to be a major thorn in the side of its larger rivals – shows that a flexible approach to network deployment can deliver positive results.


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