Singapore and Hong Kong

POWER: High Bandwidth Penetration MORE POWER CENTERS

As U.S. telcos and cable companies sluggishly roll out cable and ADSL broadband Internet access across America, Singapore and Hong Kong are already nearly completely wired.

Ninety-eight percent of Singaporean homes and more than 70 percent of Hong Kong households already have access to residential broadband connectivity. With this unparalleled infrastructure in place, both cities hope to become the ecommerce hubs of Asia. But so far, things are not quite turning out that way.

Hong Kong’s residential broadband system has only about 22,000 customers, despite passing 1.3 million homes, while Singapore’s broadband system has only about 60,000 customers out of a total population of more than 3.8 million.

Why such a sluggish take up? No one’s exactly sure. But the telcos and governments in the two cities are doing everything they can to pump up usage. In Singapore, the government is helping promote the system with special pricing packages, ecommerce financial incentive schemes and other programs. Meanwhile, Cable & Wireless/Hong Kong Telecom is teaming up with the likes of Microsoft to develop content services for users, as well as further developing video-on-demand services.

Until these click, it is largely a case of all-dressed-up-with-nowhere-to-go. To Tim Johnson, a London-based analyst for telecommunications consultant Ovum, it is just part of the immaturity of the medium. “Truth is, the promised land [of ubiquitous broadband] hasn’t arrived anywhere,” he says. “Yet.”

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