While we are in the middle of our National Broadband Network request for proposals, I though it would be interesting to identify what is happening in other countries around the world; and their strategies for the deployment of a Next Generation Broadband Network.

What ever you want to call it - Fibre to the Node, Fibre to the Home, Fibre to the Curb – more optical fibre is being deployed in telecommunication networks than at any other point of time. Fibre is critical for the development of our 21st century economic needs.

The government in its pre-election announcement of their National Broadband Policy used a slide from a presentation I sent them in 2006 which described fibre to the home as important as the roads, railway and airports. Fibre is the new 21st infrastructure just like the railroads were in the 19th century and the highways in the 20th century.

But why is it so important? In a global economy, jobs, capital and investment tends to flow to locations that can generate the highest return. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 48% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product for 2004 comes from knowledge based industries. In Australia we are already starting to see the impact of call centre and software development jobs being moved off shore to India and this process is likely to accelerate as more back office service functions are moved to lower cost economies.

Conversely, Australia has become a popular location for post production in the movie industry. Rather than using the more expensive production houses in California, Hollywood has been using Australian companies to do the work. In Sydney, there is a high speed fibre network connecting a number of organisations together to enhance their speed of delivery and capabilities.

These two examples have both resulted in changes to the economy, jobs, capital and investment and have been enabled because of high speed fibre based broadband networks. Taking this further if Australia had a ubiquitous fibre to the home network, the production house employees could be working from home, reducing the need for travel, saving on fuel and greenhouse gases and providing a benefit to the environment.

If this infrastructure is so important, why then are we even contemplating FTTN using VDSL2 technology which at best could deliver 50Mbps downstream and more likely 30Mbps with a limited 5Mbps upstream capability. As one respondent said on Telstra's own blog site (www.nowwearetalking.com.au) "by the time the infrastructure investment is paid off and profits made, Australia will be so far behind the rest the world we will be a laughing stock"

So what is happening in other countries in terms of 21st century NGNs. This table is up to date as of October 2008, and indicates that 25 countries have a strong commitment to FTTH in either current deployments or deployments soon to start.


Incumbant Algerie Telecom has plans to roll out Fibre to the Home (FTTH) during the course of 2008, with an eventual view to launching triple-play services including IPTV.


Has a national strategy for the ubiquitous deployment of FTTH by the state owned Telecom Brunei.


China ranked 11th in terms of market penetration and, growth in the number of connections to 7.5 million, means that China is second only to Japan in the number of households with FTTH.


About 150,000 FTTH subscribers. Strong growth


Strong development by incumbent France Telecom and competitive carrier Iliad. France Telecom claims they will pass 1 million homes by end of this year. Iliad suggesting 4 million homes by 2012.


In February 2008, The Hellenic Ministry of Transport and Communications has announced plans to provide FTTH in 2 million houses across Greece by 2013.

Hong Kong

Some 28% of homes are already connected to Fibre (or fibre to the building). Some providers now offering 1Gbps FTTH services.


The biggest of all the Europeans with 2 million homes passed and 300,000+ homes connected.


Has a long held government strategy to deliver symmetrical 100Mbit/s to 80% of households by 2010. FTTH currently being deployed by NTT and has connected (not passed) more than 8 million homes with 300,000 new homes being added per month. Should surpass number of DSL subscriber lines by the end of this year.


Some 37% of homes are already connected to Fibre (or fibre to the building). Average speeds across the whole of Korea is close to 40Mbit/s. Strong government policy on delivery of 100Mbit/sec symmetrical service.


Kuwait Ministry of Communications created a strategy to roll out FTTH with Alcatel across Kuwait City.


Makedonski Telekom has started the deployment of FTTH reports Macedonian newspaper Dnevnik. The entire area of Skopje should be covered by the end of 2008 and then the network will be expanded to Bitola, Tetovo and other cities.


Government policy sets telecommunications as one of the five pillars of its economy. New entrant is rolling FTTH to every home in the Island nation.

New Zealand

Government has set an strategy in place which says 90 per cent of homes will have connections of 20Mbps or higher by 2018, and 80 per cent of connections will be via fibre.

If the National Party wins the forthcoming elections then their commitment is to build the network sooner with a $1b investment.


No national initiative, but many local government (muni) initiatives for FTTH deployment. Currently 175,000 connected homes (Source: Stratix, Mar 2008) with a projection of 700,000 by 2012.


Dozens of municipal FTTH projects have sprouted all over the country. Currently 7% penetration of FTTH or some 110,000 homes.


Portuguese alternative operator Sonaecom committed an investment of 240 million euros to develop a Next Generation Network that is planned to cover of over 1 million homes and approximately 25% of the Portuguese population


Telco Terracom deploying FTTH in the two major cities.


Currently out to tender for the delivery of a new national broadband network with speeds up to 1Gbit/s to every household. NetCO awarded to the OpeNET consortium with incumbant operator SingTel and Canadian operator Axia as the main players.


Slovenan incumbent operator Telekom Slovenije plans to spend up to €450 million (A$725 million) between now and 2015 on a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout in an effort to deliver high-speed access capabilities to 70 percent of households in the eastern european country.

Incumbant operator, Telefónica has launched FTTH (Fiber To The Home) services in 12 Spanish cities: Vitoria, Barcelona, Las Palmas, Madrid, Málaga, Murcia, Sevilla, Tenerife, Valencia, Valladolid, Bilbao and Zaragoza.


Sweden has already a vast number of installed FTTH connections both in rural and suburban areas. Municipalities and private companies are using blown fiber and cable in metro networks. 7% of homes currently connected (275,000 subscribers) to FTTH and growing fast.

Recently the municipal housing authorities announced their plans to install fiber to the home in some 800,000 apartments giving up to 1Gbit/s connection speeds.


Recent announcement by Swisscom the backbone of their network has been transferred to fibre during the past year and the focus is now on rolling-out fibre to the home (FTTH), replacing the copper cables, which currently connect switches to the households.


Incumband operator, Chunghwa Telecom has earmarked US$1.84 billion to be spent during the next five years expandingtheir FTTH and FTTB (fiber-to-the-building) network that will connect about 25 percent of Taiwan's 7.4 million residences and offices.

United Kingdom

BT has annouced their intention to rollout out a deep fibre network and deliver FTTH into every new housing estate. Plans are to connect 10 million homes to fibre by 2012.

United States

Verizon is rolling out their FiOS Fibre to the Home network. Having passed over 10 million homes in the past 4 years, they are projecting to have passed more than 18 million homes by 2010. AT&T is also deploying their U-verse product which is a Fibre to the Node/Curb solution offering VDSL2 loops. They have been trialling FTTH.

In total the USA now has 3.7M homes connected to FTTH (excluding AT&T U-verse FTTC)

Recently the House of Reps introduced a resolution calling for government policy on a new generation network offering 100Mbps to every home. A similar resolution was also introduced into the Senate co-sponsored by Barrack Ombama.


Encourages investment in Fibre with their report titled "Developments in Fibre Technologies and Investment".


At 20 August, 2008 02:19 José Antonio Galán Rincón said...

The New York Times published an article under the title Verizon's FiOS: A Smart Bet or a Big Mistake http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/technology/19fios.html, where describes the situation in the USA market, where Verizon runs fiber optic while AT&T choose to squeeze all that the copper pair has to give, and still there isn't a consensus about which is the right choice to make. I particularly agree with you, that is a necessity for a country to deploy fiber in it's territory no matter if the investment comes from private or public funds.


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