Water in wine!

Publié le par Jean Arnal

For the past thirty years, everywhere in the world, the key words were: deregulation, market and competitive forces, and light regulation when necessary. The success today is certainly not yet at the expected level 30 years ago, but the strategy has brought some benefit despite the reluctance of incumbents and some political forces. Today, the telecom industry and governments have to face another challenge. There is a demand (and a need) for high speed broadband services (I know we can argue for a long time on this matter), and nobody (government, telcos and service providers, customers) want to be late to get it, for obvious reasons of competitiveness, to be in and not being distanced on the economical, social and cultural levels by “old-fashioned” technologies usage. It is the reality, but the challenge is expensive and therefore risky. The “ideal” solution is currently seen as laying fiber to the household in order to distribute enough bandwidth. The problem is the cost of laying fiber and connecting homes: some €1000 per household in urban areas; €2000 per household in sub-urban areas and up to €6000 per household in rural areas. As nobody will support the idea of segregating such or such region, the total cost for bringing bandwidth to 90% of the population in the former 15 European member states is in the magnitude of €300bn. With such investments, and current regulatory constraints, very few telcos will start the job alone. Either regulatory rules change, or public investment is made (or both). Talks for a solution are under way, but curiously it recalls the time of bringing POTS to everybody several decades ago. Even the EU Commission, not suspect of weakness against public funding elsewhere, is conceding state-funded projects in areas where market forces fail and not enough private fund is available. We can reinvent the wheel.

Publié dans Top stories

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