Last year I reported on the launch by Iliad in France of its FttH plans, in collaboration with local communities and during my European trip I did get an update of the current situation. Since September last year Iliad has rolled out fibre in Paris, in association with the city council. Interestingly, this has resulted in the two other major players also becoming involved in FttH rollouts, with both France Telecom and neuf Cegetel launching their own FttH initiatives.
Paris fibre competition – 2007 (Source: BuddeComm)
- Iliad – Started in September 2006, €1 billion rollout
- Neuf Cegetel – Plans 250,000 connections by 2009
- France Telecom – Plans 200,000 connections by 2008
- Noos (cable company) – Also plans to become involved
- Departement Haute-de-Seine (upmarket) – Own municipality plan city subsidy: €70 million
On a national level the French Government has targeted four million FttH connections by 2012.
In addition to these important initiatives in France, in Germany fibre competition has taken off in Cologne. Looking at the many FttH projects that are currently underway, further competition is expected in this market. Telcos and cable operators are experiencing increasing competition from municipal fibre initiatives.
The network in Amsterdam is a classic example. Twice, the US based cable TV company UPC has unsuccessfully tried to stop CityNet by challenging the City of Amsterdam incourt, one case from UPC is still running at the European Court. Both suits were disallowed and there is still a case running against the City by one of the cable companies. However, on the day we had our Australia-Netherlands Roundtable in Amsterdam the first fibre connection went live, amid a great deal of national and international publicity.
Municipal fibre is clearly here to stay and reluctant incumbents face being left behind in their most critical markets. Interestingly, in Almere (a satellite city of Amsterdam that we also visited during the Mission) it has been rumoured that KPN will come to the party and will work with the local city authorities to build an open fibre network.
Vienna and Zurich are some of the other European cities involved in FttH rollouts.
I have also made regular reports about the open fibre network that exists in Stockholm. This was the first municipality to start rolling out its own dark fibre network as a utility for other telcos, and later on for ISPs, to use. There are now some 35 operators on this network. However, all of them have simply continued to provide access and very little, if any, value-added services. Their profitability is very low and a serious rethink is underway.
In the meantime, Fastweb has demonstrated that value-added services can be a successful strategy, and other broadband/fibre telcos are now looking seriously at the Fastweb model as a possible better way forward (see below for more on Fastweb).
The Danish government has launched an ‘undergrounding’ plan which would see underground fibre networks connecting up to 35% of the country (representing some 50% of the population) by 2008/2009.
In the meantime major fibre action has moved south, with Greece, Spain and Italy presently adding most of the new projects to the European scene.
As is happening elsewhere, these projects are also driven by municipalities, based on economic development and social welfare. In all, over 70% of all the European fibre projects are driven by local communities for economic and social welfare purposes. The situation in southern Europe often makes it a bit easier for local councils to take part – the EC guidelines allow for local governments to participate if there is evidence of market failure.
Another interesting development is that the threat of municipal fibre, competing against established networks, is often sufficient for the traditional players to start jumping on the bandwagon and investing in their own fibre networks.
For more information, see separate reports:
France – Broadband Market – Overview, Statistics & Forecasts;
France – Convergence – Triple Play & Digital TV;
Germany – Broadband Market – Overview, Statistics & Forecasts;
Germany – Convergence – Triple Play & Digital TV;
Sweden – Broadband Market – Overview, Statistics & Forecasts;
Sweden – Convergence – Triple Play & Digital TV;
Greece – Telecoms Market Overview, Statistics & Forecasts;
Switzerland – Broadband Market – Overview & Statistics;
Austria – Broadband Market – Overview, Analysis & Forecasts;
Austria – Convergence – Triple Play & Digital TV.
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