FTTH, emerging from holiday lull

By John Nixon 25/02/2010


I’ve been at my Gold Coast (Australia) home for the last month, still watching closely what is happening in the area’s FTTH projects. The brief answer: NOT MUCH! Well at least visibly.
Both Australia and New Zealand are still finding their way with their National Fibre-Optics networks; organising, hiring people, refining their business plans.
During our traditional holiday time, the FTTH Council in Europe has held its annual conference.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting their current President Karel Helsen, who made the following remarks in the last day or so:
The snow and recent freezing weather in northern Europe brought a substantial increase in teleworking — but not everyone enjoyed the same broadband speeds.
In the Netherlands, for example, users accessed speeds typically double those available in the UK, which has gone from being a leader in first-generation broadband, to finding itself in danger of being left behind.
In the Council’s opinion, governments have an important role to play to facilitate the acceleration of deployment of fibre networks. They need to develop clear policies and regulation to encourage the market to invest in new infrastructure, and be prepared to step in when there is a clear market failure.
Telecoms operators recognise that a fibre network is more reliable, easier to manage and cheaper to run than the existing copper-based telephone infrastructure.
US operator Verizon, for example, claims a 60 per cent reduction in operational expenditure thanks to its roll out of FiOS, its bundled communications service which is expected to be profitable this year and now supplies more than 12m homes.
In the FTTH Council’s view, money should not be spent on short-term fixes that will be obsolete in a few years. Fibre-to-the-home is often described as future proof — optical fibre has virtually unlimited capacity both to and from the user, so bandwidth upgrades only require changes to the equipment on the ends of the link.
Build the network once; enjoy it for the next 50 years and beyond — why settle for anything less?

Good thinking Karel, but back to our neck of the woods. Things are really starting to hot up in Australia, particularly between the NBN Co and Telstra. Recent comments:
NBN Co could retail services
The Federal Government has left the door open for the National Broadband Network Company to supply services directly to some users, going against its stated aim that the company would only provide wholesale services.

This is a very interesting twist, and I wonder how New Zealand will continue their policy of simple fibre backbone service, particularly in light of Telecom NZ’s recent dramas with their new XT network outages. Yes mobile 3G networks are not FTTH, but design and implementation competence is so important.

As our new business year kicks in after the holiday break, I think we are in for some very interesting happenings with the national fibre networks in both Australia and New Zealand.

Stay tuned!