Last week, the FTTH Council Europe held its annual conference in Paris. One of the biggest guests was supposed to be European Commissioner Viviane Reding, but unfortunately she was unable to attend due to business commitments. However she sent a very clear message to Europe’s incumbent operators via a Video broadcast to the event: "there’s no way you’ll get away with building closed FTTH networks". The commissioner has clearly shown in her dealings with the region’s mobile carriers, that she is one tough (and smart) operator.

Perhaps our own ACCC can take a left out of her book and start looking into Telstra's practice of signing developers to exclusive agreements using the Velocity Smart Community package. While Telstra is at least rolling out FTTH in some parts of the community, it is their practice of a closed network that does not impress my clients (developers) nor the residents who move into the estate to later find they are locked into Bigpond Internet at ADSL2+ speeds but at prices which are twice as much.

She went on to further say, ”Several operators have announced their fiber plans ...[and]... this great migration to fiber is a challenge. Some carriers want [regulatory] exemptions for their fiber rollouts, but regulatory holidays are not on the agenda. There will be no sliding back to monopolies". Again, this applies to not only the Telstra Velocity product, but also the resently announced introduction of ADSL2+ by Telstra at the 900 exchanges.

Reding also praised Europe’s impressive broadband growth rate in recent years. With nearly 100 million broadband customers at the end of 2007, the region’s broadband connection total has grown three-fold during the past three years, “and that’s due to market forces promoting competition". But Europe can still do better, especially with regard to the speed of connections, as the average speed of a broadband connection in EU member countries is just 1 Mbit/s, and Europe needs better upload speeds so it can participate in the user-generated content revolution, added Reding.

And that’s where the growth of residential fiber access will make a difference.


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