Thursday, November 01, 2007

DIY fibre to the farm

A local Dutch newspaper carries a story (in Dutch) on bridging the digital divide in rural areas. The eastern towns of Bronckhorst and Berkelland have launched a 'Fibre to the Farm' project. A trial is currently conducted among 150 households. Next year it will be evaluated.
It involves a co-op ordering a backhaul network from a company like Reggefiber or Schuuring. The members of the co-op (farmers) do the digging of the last mile themselves.

Here are some quotes (somewhat freely translated), that fit my stance on FTTH, munifiber and e-health exactly:
In rural areas ADSL-connections lack the quality necessary for proper business networks. In this day and age, that leads to trailing economic growth, which is precisely what rural areas are afraid of.

Large operators have no interest in hooking up rural areas, since it costs too much and pay-back periods are too long. That is why municipalities have to take up the gauntlet, supported by regional governments.

The trick is the cost savings at digging, explains Hupkens. The digging activities represent 70% of the cost of constructing the network. (...) Farmers can easily do this relatively simple job, digging to their yards. Thus you can construct a valuable network at low cost. A network, of which the users are co-owners. And therefore have a say over the services delivered over it. Hupkens points to a similar project in the Brabant town of Nuenen, where the members themselves have allowed local radio and TV stations onto their fibre network.

A study revealed that 60-80% of consumers and businesses are likely to want to be connected. Willingness among farmers to do the digging is extremely high.

Reasons for wishing to be hooked up vary. Companies want access to the digital highway. Senior citizens are interested in e-care.

1 comment:

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