I wasn’t able to make it to the FTTH Conference myself this year, but I have been keeping tabs on what’s going on there through the industry pubs and social networks – and vicariously through my colleague Matthias Nass, VP Field Marketing EMEA for ECI. Matthias attended the conference, and he kept me posted on what was happening there.
It was reported that the Conference is now the largest FTTH event in the world, with over 3,300 delegates attending in 2012. This is a 10% increase over last year, illustrating the continued strong interest in fiber. Still, it seems like the subject of copper was never far from the surface. There was talk of progressive DSL technologies like vectoring which extend the life of copper networks, and also the rumor mill was buzzing about the European Union regulator’s plan to reduce incentives to use copper networks or even shut down the programs altogether. At any rate, according to the smartest people who are involved in this industry, there’s room for both fiber and next-gen DSL infrastructure – at least for the foreseeable future.
There was lots of good news and analysis that came out of the Conference, and I’ve created a mashup of some of the more interesting content:
- The conference program focused on topics including setting up and implementing fiber networks, the positive impact of fiber on productivity and economic development, and fiber as an enabler of new end-user applications and services.
- Breko, the German association for competitive carriers, organized a pre-conference workshop to discuss how to reduce risks with partnerships, FTTH/B business models and best practices for the industry.
- There was lots of live tweeting going on at the conference and from the workshops. Check out the great tweets from @awooster, @fiberguy, @robdgallagher, @paulinerigby and @raylemaistre. Or, search all tweets using hashtag #FTTH2012. (It makes you feel like you were there, even if you weren’t!)
- Pauline Rigby penned a terrific piece on the state of FTTH in Europe for Lightwave magazine. In FTTH in Europe: A long way to go, she writes that while Europe is still playing catch up when it comes to FTTH, it is making valiant efforts. Adoption is still the big challenge, according to Rigby. She also includes some interesting data from the Broadband Forum on ‘hybrid FTTx,’ or technologies that utilize both fiber and copper in the access network.
- In fact, it seems that the underlying frustration at the conference was the low level of fiber rollout in Europe, and the main reason is the challenging business case. Matthias tells me that in Munich, end-users can choose among eight different broadband providers, but not many people are willing to pay the premium for FTTH.
- If you take your broadband for granted, it’s probably because you live in a city or suburban area. If you are in a rural area, you are probably lucky to get any broadband connection…
- Given these limitations, many carriers are moving towards FTTC, while bidding their time with their FTTH investments.
- Thought provoking as always, Light Reading’s International Managing Editor Ray Le Maistre opines in the blog post Enough FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Hype). Here, Ray says there’s little need for the FTTH Council to continue to talk down the potential gains that carriers might get from advanced DSL technologies like vectoring because attendees understand the benefits of fiber access deployment very well.
- Still unclear is the role that government and municipalities will play in this market. There is plenty of discussion on whether governments should subsidize the FTTH infrastructure, to make the ROI more attractive to providers. It seems that many municipalities in Europe have done major fiber rollouts, but are struggling to find service providers willing to resell fiber connections.
- Be sure to also check out Le Maistre’s news analysis on Western Europe Still in FTTH Slow Lane. He presents some sobering figures from research firm IDATE that illustrate the slow take-up rate of FTTH subscribers in the European Union’s 27 nations.
As well, you can hear more on the latest FTTH statistics directly from IDATE’s Roland Montage in this FTTH Council video. Roland says that while EU nations now have over five million FTTH subscribers, a growth of 28% in one year, they are still well behind other parts of the world, specifically Russia and Asia-Pac.
- Brian Dolby of Proactive PR did some really great video interviews at the Conference for the FTTH Council. Here are some of the more notable ones:
- Chris Holden, President, FTTH Council Europe, talks about how FTTH is still growing and shares some interesting worldwide penetration statistics
- Robin Mersh, Chief Executive Officer, Broadband Forum, discusses the Forum’s recently announced Q3 2011 broadband statistics
- Graham Finnie, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading, shares some analysis on the market for FTTH across Europe and the revitalization of DSL and copper through technologies such as vectoring
That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll see you at the next FTTH conference, being held February 19-21, 2013, in London!