Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Update on FTTH: service provider issues

The world of fiber is moving fast, but it is not all good news. Since my previous update, some notable developments occured.
  • Citynet (Amsterdam). First of all, I have to make a correction. Amsterdam does in principle offer enough room to allow for direct buried duct (not just direct buried cable). However, one of the project's execs points me to the fact that probably not a single Dutch town allows ducts of 30++ centimeter diameter to be buried. And that is what you would need to connect the central office to the aggregation point. Other than that, Citynet simply decided to go without ducts.
  • UTOPIA and iProvo (Utah). Both projects are running into financial problems and are looking for refinancing. This article holds the key to the solution, I believe: better marketing. Wholesale projects such as these (and Citynet) require service providers for marketing. The trouble is, there may simply be too many SPs, which is confusing to the public (sources tell me this is an Amsterdam issue), or they may simply be too small, and cannot absorb the losses associated with the necessary investments (as seems to be the case in Utah). Furthermore, the Utah networks seem to be suffering from a limited product portfolio (no low tier product at a competitive price point). The issue reminds me of projects (Powell, Wyoming) that decide to allow for a service provider monopoly during the first several years of operation. Of course, pricing must be in order too (even if MSOs will launch targeted cheap offerings). EPB in Chattanooga targets to undercut market prices by 5-15%. By the way, Provo seems to have had offers for the iProvo network, but isn't ready to sell out.
  • Database. I updated my FTTH 2007 - 2008 database for more details and lots of links.
  • Financial models. I wonder if any of the projects has a financial model available. There are lots of consultants out there who are doing that laborious task.


Anonymous said...

The details of operations......
To prevent misinterpretations:

A fully miniducted solution (1 miniduct per fiberpair from home to aggregation point)has a much bigger form factor compared to direct buried cable + ducted high density cable (HD with 144 fibers : diameter approx 1 cm, HD with 592 fibers approx 2,5 cm). The bigger form factor becomes a problem when you approach the aggregation point and the number of fibers increases to a multiple of 1000's. Most city's allocate a certain cross-section underground to telecomcables, which will be too small in this case, the other cables of other parties cannot be reached anymore etc. Keeping ducts airtight so you can blow without problems requires more sophisticated handling and testing. The balance in our case clearly tipped in the direction of HD144 + direct burial, the reality confirms our assumptions.

Anonymous said...

And off course the other factor is that in the West-Netherlands soil even concrete ducts of considerable size tend to gradually move up to the field level. This is due to Archimedes law.

The fact is that Dutch soil in civil engineering terms is more akin to a high viscosity fluid like toothpaste than the far more solid earth found in most countries.