I have been looking into the Open Lambda Initiative (OLI), NGPON 2 technologies and the fascinating framework that the OLI is creating which would allow multiple operators to each deploy their own active equipment on a PON tree architecture and use different wavelengths on the fibre. This offers a solution to a problem with today’s EPON/GPON FTTH systems: only one company can deploy its own OLTs, limiting flexibility and room for differentiation amongst the other players.
After some intense detective work we are ready to revisit the regulatory issues with regard to rollouts of VDSL vectoring. This is a hugely important issue: Rene Obermann, Deutsche Telekom CEO, has indicated that the operator will increase its superfast broadband coverage in Germany to 24 million homes by 2016, double the current 12 million VDSL homes passed, if it is allowed to deploy vectoring. The technology would allow download speeds for these households of 100Mbps. This could entail billions of Euros in spending for vendors and has the ability to reshape the German fixed broadband market, Europe’s largest, where the incumbent has been losing out to cable operators’ aggressively priced high speed offers.
As interest in G.Fast grows we see that it can be deployed in three basic ways, each of which have very different costs and deployment models and so have different levels of feasibility. Each of the three models does, however, maintain the similarity of using the existing copper network only for a very short distance.
On the face of it, DSL acceleration technologies seem to offer a neat solution to a key problem of fixed line operators: to offer superfast BB without having to invest billions rolling fiber all the way to the home. But the new DSL technologies, as discussed in last week’s DSL Acceleration conference, are not without their own complexities.
Imagine my surprise when stumbling upon a story regarding Armenia’s Internet connection to the outside world being cut off thanks to the antics of an unfortunate pensioner, who, while searching for copper to sell, accidentally cut through the fibre optic cables connecting Armenia with Georgia. I always thought my work was rather specialised so it is good to see such news making international headlines. The story does highlight the importance of international Internet connectivity but does not tell the whole story about how the situation has improved in Armenia and the effects this is having on the retail broadband market.
Conventional wisdom runs that Eastern Europe already has a surfeit of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV operators. But recent launches show there are yet more players willing to enter the market and, at least in certain markets, there is still some room for growth in subscriber numbers.
Ex-Estonian Prime Minister and historian Mart Laar once wrote a book entitled Estonia: little country that could. And it seems that his countrymen have taken this to heart when it comes to adopting IPTV. While one almost feels sorry for the technology in other Eastern European markets – it has a paltry 2 per cent share of multichannel TV in Hungary and a pitiful 1 per cent in Poland – in Estonia, incumbent Elion’s rollout already has 23 per cent of the market. The question is: why this discrepancy?
Having recently read Slavenka Drakulic’s marvellous and wholly wry little book Cafe Europa, I think it is worth noting the real differences that exist in the fixed broadband markets of all the countries in Eastern Europe. And that is the theme of Slavenka’s book: that culture matters and that generalisations are dangerous.
Although there are some significant variations and investment in new networks, fixed broadband penetration in Central Asia and the Caucasus remains low. One factor holding back development has been political. Many of these countries are dictatorships or at best deeply flawed democracies. The question is whether such regimes want citizens to have access to broadband and the window onto the world it can provide.