While the Japanese did not invent the Internet, the Japanese are certainly running away with it.
Japan has over 100.7 million web users - 79.1% of its population, making it 4th in the world for internet penetration. With mobile broadband, Japan ranks only second in the world, with 144.1 million subscriptions.
Broadband service in Japan is roughly seven to thirty times as fast as Australia -- and considerably cheaper. Together with Korea, Japan has the world's fastest Internet connections, delivering more data at a lower cost than anywhere else.
Accelerating broadband speed in this country -- as well as in South Korea and much of Europe -- is pushing open doors to Internet innovation that are likely to remain closed for years to come in much of Australia.
Ultra-high-speed applications are being rolled out for low-cost, high-definition teleconferencing, for telemedicine -- which allows urban doctors to diagnose diseases from a distance -- and for advanced telecommuting to help Japan meet its goal of doubling the number of people who work from home by 2014.
Japan has surged ahead of Australia on the wings of better wire and more aggressive government regulation.The copper wire used to hook up Japanese homes is newer and runs in shorter loops to telephone exchanges than in Australia. This is partly a matter of geography and demographics: Japan is relatively small, highly urbanized and densely populated.
Perhaps more importantly, competition in Japan gave a kick in the pants to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT), once a government-controlled enterprise and still Japan's largest phone company. With the help of government subsidies and tax breaks, NTT launched a nationwide build-out of fiber-optic lines to homes, making the lower-capacity copper wires obsolete.
The burgeoning optical fiber system is hurtling Japan into an Internet future that experts say Australians are unlikely to experience for many years – and offer opportunities to Australian companies wishing to enter the Japanese market.