Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Belgacom and FTTH in the Netherlands

Yesterday I had a short meeting with my contact at Tiscali Wholesale (now a unit of KPN). Always a pleasure and always good new insights.

Here are my takeaways.
  • The future of Tiscali NL. Most of it is rebranded to Telfort. Tiscali Wholesale however will be folded into KPN Wholesale, but more or less as a separate unit. Some ISP customers may not like to be dealing with the incumbent now, but nothing really changes for them. The Tiscali people will still be their point of sales contacts. Besides, there are not very many other shops to go to, and probably not of Tiscali's quality.
  • eHealth. We agreed that here lies a big market opportunity. The value chain is vast, something I plan to dig into.
  • IP. The perennial thing behind so much that is going on right now. (I plan on mapping an 'IP cloud'). Here Tiscali seems to be further advanced than KPN. Tiscali Wholesale clients are offered much more than just 'naked access'. IP allows for modular compounding of services.
  • FTTH. Things are probably speeding up in the Netherlands (but availability of construction workers is a bottleneck and VDSL may be an intermediary step that cannot be skipped for that reason). One caveat: an all open model, with dozens of service providers, carries the risk of confusing consumers. They simply get too many marketing messages. Apparently, Amsterdam's Citynet (3 layers: GNA monopoly at the passive layer; bbned monopoly at the active layer; many SPs) has lost an SP because the market was overcrowded. Compare that to the new Powell (Wyoming) network plan, which has agreed on a service provider monopoly for the first 6 years of operation.
  • Belgacom. Rumour has it that 'a Belgian operator' plans an assault of the Dutch market. I cannot think of any other viable option than Belgacom. To get back at KPN (which bought Tele2 Belgium), they first took over Scarlet. Scarlet NL may not be for sale after all, and the operation could be beefed up by acquiring Orange Broadband (put up for sale by T-Mobile NL). And how about Reggefiber and Telecom Italia's Dutch assets (bbned, Alice)? The strategy would mirror the Swisscom/FastWeb deal, as well as Telefonica's O2/Be deal, to name a few.

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