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LCQ7: Access of fiber-based networks to buildings
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     Following is a question by the Hon Samson Tam Wai-ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, in the Legislative Council today (May 19):

Question:

     It has been learnt that with the rapid development of bandwidths for Internet access services (IAS), most households in Hong Kong at present subscribe to broadband IAS, but the broadband services using the Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) technology to increase upload and download transmission speeds are still not popular. Some residents of old buildings have relayed to me that they are unable to use broadband services provided via FTTH technology, which has caused much inconvenience to them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current penetration rate in Hong Kong of broadband services using FTTH technology, and how it compares with those in the neighbouring regions;

(b) whether the authorities had, in the past three years, conducted any study on the difficulties encountered in providing households of old buildings with broadband services using FTTH technology; if they had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) of the policies and measures put in place by the authorities to expedite the promotion of broadband services using FTTH technology; if such policy and measure are not in place, of the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     Hong Kong is a telecommunications hub in Asia with a fully liberalised telecommunications market. The Administration encourages network operators to make investments and expand their telecommunications networks so that the market will have a wider array of choices in telecommunications services. Following market and technological advancements, the major fixed network operators (FNOs) in Hong Kong have been actively developing their own Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) or Fiber-to-the-Building (FTTB) services in order to offer internet access services at higher speed and meet the growing demand.

     My reply to the question raised by the Honourable Member is as follows íV

(a) According to the information published in February 2010 by the Fiber-to-the-Home Council, a multinational industry association, the household penetration rate for FTTH and FTTB services in Hong Kong (i.e. the proportion of the number of households using FTTH or FTTB services to the total number of households) was 33%. Hong Kong was ranked third in the world and only behind South Korea and Japan. The FTTH and FTTB household penetration rates for some other places in Asia were as follows íV

Place        FTTH and FTTB Household Penetration Rate
-----        ----------------------------------------
South Korea                 52%
Japan                       34%
Taiwan                      24%

(b) In accordance with the Telecommunications Ordinance, FNOs are authorised by the Telecommunications Authority to install telecommunications lines in the common parts of buildings to provide service to users therein. However, some older buildings are not covered by FTTH and FTTB services due to various circumstances. The reasons may include the following: the commercial consideration of FNOs; FNOs not being able to contact owners of the building for discussing the installation of facilities in the common parts of the building; technical problems (e.g. installing facilities in relatively narrow space), etc.

     The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) is now in discussion with FNOs on the technical issues associated with the access of new generation network services (comprising FTTH and FTTB services) to buildings (including older buildings). We hope that this will help networks of FNOs to gain easier access into older buildings.

(c) In order to promote the access of fiber-based networks to buildings, OFTA plans to introduce the Registration Scheme for Buildings with Optical Fiber-based Access Networks by the end of this year, and is now requesting FNOs to provide information with a view to establishing a database of buildings that have access to FTTH and/or FTTB services. OFTA also plans to launch public education programmes in relation to fiber-based network services, and will encourage FNOs to approach occupants of buildings that are not connected to fiber-based networks to discuss the access of such networks. We hope that these measures will push fiber-based networks to further develop.

Ends/Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:44

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