What price fast broadband connectivity in APAC?

AsiaPacific has long been known as a leading light of technology innovation, growth and usage, and today is home to world-leading levels of 4G coverage and mobile device penetration. It’s also long been at the forefront of the global outsourcing industry and a location for new branch offices, thanks to its cost-effective labor, language skills and embrace of technology. But today, when companies look to AsiaPacific for places to open new offices or outsource services, a new factor is in play when choosing a destination - ultrafast broadband. So how important has it become to organizations?

A recent report revealed that four of the world’s top five average broadband speeds are to be found in AsiaPacific, with Singapore leading the way with a whopping 122.93 Mb/s average speed. So for global multinational corporations (MNCs) planning on expanding in AsiaPacific, where on their list of priorities does connectivity speed versus cost figure?

Global organizations, local issues

The report showed that Malaysia has a surprisingly low average broadband speed of 7.3 Mbps – unexpected considering the capital Kuala Lumpur regularly features in the top 10 or 20 listings of outsourcing destinations. AsiaPacific’s outsourcing industry is looking increasingly set to rely on fast, robust broadband to support mobile and Unified Communications (UC)-powered models like home-sourcing and remote agents, so this could have a big impact on where MNCs choose to send their outsourced business.

The cost of fast broadband in AsiaPacific tends to vary by country, with prices in some locations falling dramatically in recent times. Singapore is home to the fastest connectivity in the region by a distance, and it was also previously out of most people’s price ranges, but competition is driving much more affordable pricing. Local providers now advertise 1Gbps contracts at $49 SG per month, or around $36 USD. Other major cities in the region such as Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong all come in at a similar price for a similar service. Compare and contrast that with the US, where comparable packages cost between $70 and $110 US.

This becomes far more of a factor when compared with Malaysia for example. Malaysia is in the same market as Singapore and competing for much of the same business, but in Malaysia a 15Mbps connection actually costs more, at around $47 US per month, than Singapore’s 1Gbps package.

Faster broadband: business benefits

So with global MNCs looking for robust, reliable communications to support their move into new branch offices or remote working in AsiaPacific, this speed versus cost certainly becomes a factor. Then want to keep their workers both productive and flexible, they need to be able to transfer big files between locations quickly, safely and securely, they want teams to be connected using mobile apps like video conferencing. So a fast, cost-effective network is to remaining ahead of the competition.

Faster broadband: economic benefits

There is an added incentive for countries to deploy fast infrastructure, since faster broadband speeds means positive economic impacts, both at local level and on countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Estimates vary but doubling an economy’s broadband speed can add 0.3 per cent to GDP growth per year, while according to the World Bank increasing broadband speed by 10 percent equates to a 1.5 percent rise in GDP.

These are significant numbers. There are also knock-on economic benefits like job creation, productivity gains and the impact on public services and education, healthcare and banking services. All of which influence an organization’s decision on where to open their latest branch office or deploy more remote workers. Several governments in APAC, most notably China, Australia and Singapore, have recognized this and put in place national broadband projects to keep themselves competitive.

Bridging the broadband divide

Staying ahead in business today means having the right technology - and fast, reliable connectivity is now right up at the top of any organization’s ‘must have’ list. As a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report into broadband speed and connectivity in AsiaPacific stated, “Broadband speed is increasingly necessary to reap new economic opportunities and to take advantage of emerging technologies such as cloud computing”. So when expanding into APAC, opening new offices and empowering mobile workers, ultra-fast broadband is now a higher priority than ever.

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.