Note from Special Issue Editor

Yu-li Liu

National Chengchi University

A broadband network can provide high speed to the Internet and has the characteristics of being always-on as well as higher connectivity. It can provide new services that it would not be feasible to provide over narrowband. It also improves the productivity of both the individual and the business sector and enhances national competitiveness.

President Bush in June 2002 said, “The country must be aggressive with the expansion of broadband.” FCC chairman Michael Powell also said in January 2003, “Broadband deployment is the central communication policy objective in America today.” In Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan have all announced their national plans for fast and wide broadband deployment. According to a Point-topic report, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have been ranked the top three high DSL penetration countries. The broadband growth rate in Japan is very rapid. Although the U.S. broadband penetration is not as high as in the above-mentioned Asian countries, it has more broadband users in terms of population.

This special issue focuses on different perspectives of broadband such as deployment, policy, strategy, advertising and m-commerce in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States. The paper by Ryu, Kim (Dea-ho) and Kim (Eun-mee) analyzes what has made Korea a number one country for broadband diffusion. It also discusses the development of the online advertising market in Korea. The authors conclude that, with the broadband service expanding in Korea, the development of online advertising has taken place too slowly to be a major source of revenue for internet services.

Since Japan is ranked as one of the most advanced countries in terms of the deployment of broadband services, several factors can be found in policy measures for the promotion of a broadband network infrastructure and the promotion of competition in the broadband market. Taniwaki suggests in his paper that the deployment of the broadband platform and its emerging business models are forcing the regulatory authority to reconsider the new competition policy rules such as how to cope with vertically-integrated business models. He envisions the stimulation of demand for broadband services, based on the deployment of broadband infrastructure, becoming the next step to be explored.

Singapore is often touted as an Intelligent Island. It has one of the world’s highest Internet penetration rates. Ang, Zhou and Jiang examine the development of broadband adoption in Singapore and reach conclusions that may be applicable to similar developments elsewhere. The authors point out that the downside of government support for broadband deployment is government intervention. Market players are also critical of the government because administrative burdens and rules sometimes inhibit business plans. They urge the government to liberalize the telecommunications market further. The authors also emphasize that Singapore should not just focus on the use of IT, but should also evaluate the social and cultural impacts.

Taiwan has been making great efforts to promote the fulfillment of its National Information Infrastructure in recent years. In this issue, Liu analyzes the demand for broadband, the competition among providers of broadband, and relevant policies in Taiwan. The research methods adopted include a literature review, in-depth interviews, and a follow-up analysis of previous surveys conducted via the World Wide Web and by telephone. Liu concludes that even though Taiwan has the second highest DSL penetration in the world, there is still much room for improvement.

During the first stage of broadband deployment, fast speed is important to the wider deployment of broadband. The broadband content is the next most important driving force. Online games are viewed as one of the killer applications of broadband content. In this issue, Chou analyzes G-commerce in East Asia in her paper that unravels the causes behind the exponential growth of online games in East Asia. The results show that South Korea and Taiwan are leading all others in PC-based online gaming, because of their easy and low-priced broadband access. Japan has leaned toward mobile games, as more Japanese use the mobile Internet and play wireless games on their palm-sized gadgets.

Apart from Asia, the broadband market in the United States is also emerging. Chan-Olmsted and Kang compare the strategic differences between telcos and cable television firms in the United States. The authors conclude that mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are practiced more frequently than other types of alliances and cable is a more attractive target as well as an active acquirer in M&A alliances. “Relatedness” is a more important M&A strategy for the cable firms as the telcos focus on a resource alignment strategy.

Together, the papers in this issue provide a good introduction to broadband diffusion, policy and strategy in five countries. The successful factors and experiences can be learned by other countries. The ideas presented in these papers should prove valuable to academic researchers, industry practitioners and policy-makers.

About the Author

Yu-Li Liu is a professor in the Department of Radio and TV at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. She has received grants from Taiwan’s National Science Council for research projects in the areas of interactive TV and broadband networks in Taiwan. Her research interests include electronic media law and regulation, new communications technology, telecommunications and media management. She has published numerous books including Multi-channel TV and Audience, Cable TV Management and Programming Strategy, Cable TV Programming and Policy in China, and Radio and TV. Dr. Liu earned her master’s degree in mass communications at Washington State University and her Ph.D. degree in telecommunications at Indiana University.