Broadband networks of the future – fiber-optic networks as drivers for competition.

Now that fiber-optic cables have been laid to neighbourhoods (fiber to the node) and to large companies (fiber to the office), residential customers and SMBs are next in line (FTTH).

To be clear about roles we have to differentiate between network operators and content delivery operators. Not all, may be none at all, content delivery operators need to have their own network.

The national backbone for telecommunications now consists of copper lines, coax cables, 3G/4G, GSM and other nets, fiber optic cables, radio lines, radio/TV transmitters – this will be the Norwegian telecommunications and IT infrastructure for many years to come. Copper lines and coax cables will most likely decline in importance, fiber-optics will increase for most day-to-day purposes. Portable devices will have faster 4G-nets than we see today.

Demand for new business applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP), Unified Communications and video conferencing is driving the need for increasingly higher network capacities, prompting more and more large enterprises to switch from copper to an efficient fiber-optic network. Private net based use including high density streaming, HDTV is increasing fast.

Customers will benefit from competition between different networks. At the same time some sort of cooperation should be involved. Potential cooperation partners from the telecommunications, cable and utilities industries should work together on building the fiber-optic network. The network could thus be implemented quicker and more cost-effectively. This collaboration will generate competition among different types of networks, boosting investment and innovation and maximizing the benefits for businesses and homeowners.

Different cooperation models should be used in the interests of preventing duplication, saving costs and accelerating the introduction of broadband networks in Norway. All households should have several fiber-optic cables and the cables should be divided between the cooperation partners. Network operators can use a range of different technologies for their own infrastructure, and use this as a platform on which to build up and offer their services. The services and network quality they will be able to offer depends heavily on the choice of technology.

When it comes to service, quality and technological innovation, network operators can only differentiate themselves effectively on the market if they are able to monitor and manage the entire network, from the exchange to the end customer device.

Construction partnerships can be aimed in particular at partners with their own ducts or masts, such as electrical utilities or cable network providers. One of the partners takes on responsibility for building the fiber-optic network in a defined region – for example a specific district or an entire city. Several fibers are laid, and when the network is completed each of the other cooperation partners is assigned some fiber. Compensatory payments may be required to ensure equality among partners.

Examples of cooperation models:

· Investment partnership: Partners without their own cable ducts. All the partners jointly finance network expansion. One partner builds the entire network and grants the investor usage rights to the fibers laid.

· Rental of individual fibers: Individual fibers are rented by partners who do not wish to invest in network expansion but want to decide themselves on the preferred technical level for controlling the optic-optic network.

· Leasing of transmission services: As with DSL broadband technology, which has long been established on the market, The partners also provide reseller offerings for Internet service providers who do not wish to invest in their own infrastructure. These providers can use the cooperation partner’s optical fibers and higher-level network technology.

Non-discriminatory and fair offerings will cover all bandwidths.

(Based on article about Swisscom and Swiss cooperation)

And the speed on the internet is going up all the time – what about unlimited bandwidth anytime soon?

In the US debate about financing the optical networks is gaining ground: commercial or town/municipal? A good internet connection – optical fibre – in necessary for all business today. But who is paying? Many years ago it was water, electricity, roads … everybody must have it so “everbody” pays.

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