Gfast map

gfast map copy

 

Dark Blue: Firm commitments from incumbent: BT (10M), Belgacom, Australian NBN, Swisscom,  Austria, Bezeq Israel, Chunghwa Taiwan, Telus Canada, Telekom South Africa, SK Korea, (U.S.) AT&T, Century, Frontier, Windstream, Belgium, Omantel

Mid Blue: Smaller carriers in Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan

Light Blue: Incumbent likely:  France, Germany, Italy

Korean-Buddha"In June 2016, SK Broadband President Yin-Chan Lee publicly announced the intention to provide gigabit Ethernet speeds [with] existing copper telephone lines in old apartments via G.fast." I missed the story then; Google only shows a single tweet in English. 

$15B SK Telecom is Korea's largest wireless carrier and #2 in fixed. There are 9M apartments in Korea served with VDSL and copper LAN, most running at 100 megabits. Korea Telecom is actively deploying GIGA Wire, their version of G.hn, for higher speeds. They intend to upgrade 95% of those units by the end of 2017. SK needs to respond quickly. 

Korea startled the world in 2001 & 2002 by pulling ahead of the then leader, the U.S. Japan & then France followed; the U.S. has been behind many others ever since. The government created the competition that inspired Korea Telecom to an almost miraculously fast DSL deployment. A few years before, the government persuaded/incentivized some large Korean companies to fund Hanaro as a competitor to KT. Hanaro was taking so many customers away KT had to respond. 

Japan and Korea became the envy of the broadband world. The CEO of KT was feted at international conferences; the politicians used the broadband lead to symbolize the Asian model economy. For a decade, American politicians and telco mouthpieces invented clever but mistaken reasons that U.S. policy was working. The favorite was the level of urbanization, but that was hogwash. I compared the broadband data from Korea with New York and Chicago; our cities were also behind. By later in the decade, the Europeans caught up and in many ways pulled ahead of the U.S. - sometimes at half the price. 

Korea now has something like 5M homes served with gigabit fiber, a matter of national pride. At ITU Busan two years ago, there were giant posters as you came in about Korea's move to 10 gigabits for consumers. The majority of Korean flats still had copper, which only now is being upgraded beyond 100 megabits.