According to an interview with Robin Mersh – Chief Operating Officer, Broadband Forum, on the Total Telecom website reporting from the TotalTelevision Live show from Singapore, there are now 484 million broadband subscribers globally.

Although he gives no definition of what constitutes ‘broadband’ this is impressive.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that in Asia there are now 50 million subscribers connected to fibre networks. And as to be expected, China now boasts the largest number of broadband and IPTV subscribers globally.

Assuming that we in the West still retain a desire in matching such capabilities  (as opposed to the Digital Britain report with its staggeringly unambitious 2-4 megabit broadband connections across the UK) this suggests that for all of us who are interested in the future of innovation enabled by the Internet, Asia must become the focus of research. The sociology of such connected behaviours, for example, will provide new insights for anticipating new needs, problems and possibilities.

Look East young innovators!


  1. This is the China where Google has withdrawn because of censorship right? Well I guess that’s innovation of a sort. Super fast broad band for a limited percentage of the population with limited content.

    I’m not seeing innovation out of China. At the moment they seem to be marketing themselves primarily as purveyors of cheap IT engineering resource.

    A good example would be Talend the French ETL open source vendor. They have an extremely active network of developers enhancing their core product through the open source collaborative process. They have a lab in China that takes the best of the innovation developed in the West, tests and productionises it plus checking that it is not using other folk’s IP. It then gets added to the endorsed set.

    The innovation both in software and the method for creating software lies in the West.

    So let’s stop talking the West and the UK in particular down. For instance software companies around the world come to us in the UK to understand the potential of ETL software. At our recent Data Migration Matters conference we had representatives from USA, Europe and Asia coming to talk to us about a domain where they acknowledge the UK to be years ahead of anyone else. I’d like to know how we turn this lead into a permanent advantage not be told to go East. To be honest I’m more likely to acccpet the Yankee dollar and go west.

    1. Thanks for the comments and points which are well made. You are right in the example you use but my point is far broader and simpler. I recall when we begane to discuss what the impact of broadband would be on ISPs while I was at Freeserve (when broadband started replacing dial-up access) how my team began to anticipate the changes in behaviour that ultimately led us to where we are today. My point, however, is that when you have a high-speed, high bandwidth symmetrical access infrastructure, you can be sure that this is going to have an enormous impact on behaviours, on business practices, on logistics, on data analytics, realtime interaction and collaboration. Of course there is no linear correlation between this and innovation. But at least what we are seeing is the infrastructure of big thinking and unexpected outcomes. This is what is in short supply in the West.

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