HKBN offers fibre link broadband for homes
Hong Kong Broadband Network is offering broadband services for residential users that are about 10 times faster than those available through most home connections at present.
HKBN will offer the fibre-to-home broadband service for HK$378 per month for a bandwidth of 100 megabits per second.
The company, which started building its fixed-line network in 2000, last month said it would offer the new service in about 100 housing estates.
A subscription of HK$1,680 will secure a download speed of one gigabit per second.
Similar services offered by competitors to the corporate market cost more than HK$1,000 per month for a specific bandwidth subscription.
HKBN, which said the 100 housing estates would serve as trial sites, aims to make the service available to all residential users in 2008.
The move may put pressure on other broadband service providers which offer slower broadband services through traditional technology at prices similar to those proposed by HKBN for its high-speed links.
PCCW offers broadband internet services through its legacy telephone network using DSL technology with download speeds of eight megabits to 28 megabits per second. It charges HK$200 to HK$398 per month with different bundling plans.
I-Cable Communications charges HK$248 per month for eight megabits per second bandwidth through its cable TV network.
Fibre-to-home uses optical signals to carry data at much faster speeds than other broadband technologies such as Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line or ADSL which makes use of old copper-based telephone networks.
'With the deployment of fibre-to-home services, users can easily upgrade their bandwidth beyond one gigabit, as fibre-optic connections offer unlimited capacity,' said HKBN chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay.
HKBN said it would take only 41 seconds to download a 90-minute DVD movie, compared with an average of 113 minutes from other broadband service providers.
HKBN uses gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology for its service. GPON can offer download speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second, compared with DSL broadband network speeds of around eight to 28 megabits per second.
Rivals questioned the need for residential users to have a 100-megabit-per-second broadband service.
'What is the purpose of giving home users 100- or 1,000-megabit-per-second broadband? Most users have broadband at 10 megabits per second with various applications running smoothly. Even broadband television channels can be delivered with a download speed of eight megabits per second,' an industry source said.
Others also questioned the practicality of trying to link apartments in old buildings to a fibre-optic network, due to the lack of public space to lay the cables.
'It is quite difficult for new operators to lay optical fibre to homes in existing buildings, as the ducts are full of various operators' copper-wire networks,' a PCCW source said.
HKBN's parent company, City Telecom (Hong Kong), spent HK$2 billion on fibre-optic broadband network infrastructure in Hong Kong. Copper wire continues to join individual apartments to the network, links HKBN proposes to upgrade to optical fibre.
The company has budgeted HK$325 million in capital expenditure for the fiscal 2007-2008, mainly for network expansion. HKBN's network covers 1.4 million households and has a two-million-home target.
The average cost of deploying the fibre-to-home technology is US$500 per household, mainland fixed-line giant China Telecom's vice-president Wei Leping said last month.
Mainland industry watchers said GPON would take off once the average deployment cost fell to about 1,000 yuan per household.
Optical fibre offers much faster speeds than other technologies
An HKBN subscription of HK$1,680 will secure a residential download speed of: 1Gb/s