The FTTH Council Europe commissions analysts to dig deeper into the difficult questions surrounding the roll out of fibre access networks. Filmed at the FTTH Conference in London last week, this five-minute video clip condenses the key messages from four studies presented at the event.
And quite by coincidence there’s me, writing furiously during the press conference.
Explaining the benefits of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) can be a challenge. Forget the numbers, it’s all about the very human angle of what we can do with high-speed connectivity. These short video clips from the FTTH Council Europe, premiered in their conference in Munich, do a nice job at explaining how FTTH has made a difference to the lives of ordinary people.
Perhaps you think the title of this post is a little overstated, but I doubt that the subjects of these videos would agree with you. For them, FTTH has dramatically improved their work-life balance, saved them money in business and fostered independent living well into retirement.
This first clip is about a film director in the tiny town of Kilafors in Sweden (about 1000 inhabitants), who created collaborative software tools so that he could run a data-intensive film-editing business remotely (using four computer screens simultaneously, no less).
One year ago, at the FTTH Conference 2011 in Milan, there was great excitement about how the new Digital Agenda targets could catalyse the market for fibre to the home (FTTH).
The target for availability called for every citizen in Europe to have access to 30Mbps broadband by 2020. The target around uptake was even more ambitious: the European Commission wanted half of all subscribers to be taking 100Mbps services by 2020. As Chris Holden, president of the FTTH Council Europe, pointed out at the time, such a high penetration would require almost ubiquitous availability of 100Mbps services – something that FTTH is well placed to deliver.
The second edition of the highly acclaimed guide “Beyond Broadband” is now available from the newly branded Beyond Broadband website www.beyondbroadband.coop.
The guide is a project that I worked on for the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA). I gathered information and contributions from industry experts and next-generation access projects in the UK, and then distilled the key information into a short, accessible summary of the broadband scene in the UK. This information is accompanied by information to kick start broadband project development, and I’m very pleased that BDUK is now referencing the guide as a resource for community groups looking to bid into the Rural Comunity Broadband Fund.
The second edition, published 18 months after the first, brings things up to date in terms of technology, policy and market development – it’s amazing how much has happened in such a short space of time.
Malcolm Corbett, chief exective of INCA, said: “This guide is a great primer to the issues surrounding next generation broadband and is accompanied by an in depth, expert Knowledge Base. We welcome your comments on and input to both products.”
Broadband project B4RN made a little bit of history today when it launched a share offer. The project promoters want to raise £1.86m to lay optical fibre that will provide 1Gbps broadband to homes in the deeply rural uplands of Lancashire.
Barry Forde accepts a cheque from B4RN's first shareholder. Credit: Lindsey Annison
To get to this point, B4RN asked people living in the project area to register their interest in getting hooked up to a new fibre network. The business plan depends on at least 50% of residents being prepared to pay £30 per month to receive an ultrafast broadband connection. The registration scheme launched in July and by the end of November had over 700 sign-ups: and B4RN was go!
In Phase I of the project, money raised by the share offer will be used to connect 1452 homes across nine parishes. Some have questioned whether such a small project really matters. But CEO of B4RN Barry Forde, who has spent the last two years putting the plans together, set them straight immediately. “It does matter; in fact it’s life or death for the countryside,” he told the launch meeting at the Storey Arms in Lancaster this afternoon.
What a difference a year makes… Last week BDUK quietly published, via the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) website, a report about lessons learned from the superfast broadband pilots since they were officially announced just over a year ago.
Plenty has happened in the past year, but not in terms of deployment. No superfast broadband connections have been enabled by any of the pilot projects; in fact none of the four projects has awarded a contract yet, even though at least one of them was at a fairly advanced stage of planning when originally put forward.
The report concentrates instead on what has happened in the early stages, from initial set-up of the project and preparation for procurement as well as parallel activities around demand and awareness. There are 83 administrative counties in England, the majority of whom are working out how to spend the money coming their way via BDUK, so any information that helps speed up and streamline the process is valuable.
You know the Homer Simpson clip where he complains “Every time I learn how to set the remote, I forget how to drive the car”? That is exactly how I felt after three days of presentations at the FTTH Council Europe annual conference, which this year was held in Milan, the birthplace of fibre-to-the-home in Italy.
The Council really excelled itself this year with the speaker program, starting with Professor Carlota Perez, an expert on technological revolutions, and ending with Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda. In total, there were more than 80 presentations running in three parallel sessions over two days, plus an additional day of pre-conference workshops for the truly dedicated.
Small, independent local access networks are springing up all across Europe. Many are heavily committed to the idea of open access but they are not always able to attract the service providers to prove it. At the recent NextGen10 event in Birmingham, I sat down with Adrian Wooster, founder and technology director of the Joint Open Network (JON) Exchange, to talk about how a wholesale marketplace could facilitate the business relationship between local access networks and service providers, to make sure that customers always have access to a choice of service providers.