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Fixed Broadband

In my last post, I promised to write about FTTH.

Foundation for a modern game changer

Imagine that the mirror in your bathroom turns on automatically when you step out from the shower. It tells you that your coffee is ready. It prevents you from bad investments by informing you about stock exchange. It recommends you a more adequate tie to your suit. It recommends you anti aging cream because of your additional wrinkles. It recognizes your good mood, tells you that it has increased since last year and advertizes you a city trip. It tells you not to hurry because there is a current traffic jam. It also tells you that 2 employees of your company have been checking frequently a webpage of a certain car make and offers you $100 reward when you advertise the car make during coffee break. There are infinite possibilities about machines recommending actions to humans, the recommendation quality is only a question of the available data, or the amount of explicit and implicit information. So-called recommendation engines rely basically on sensors and human interaction to be able to collect data.

According to a post on netzwoche, there was a discussion during the FTTH Conference 2013 in Zürich about recommendation assistants connected to the network. Futurist Sven Gábor Jánszky stated that we do need intelligent infrastructure as well as the competence to switch off such systems. What we cannot switch off is the amount of sensors measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, acoustic noise, light, movement, smoke, fire, smell, flavor, electromagnetic field, oxygen, ozone,…Imagine such sensors to be placed in things like smart phones, glasses, clothes, bycicles, cars, wallets, pens, pans, tooth brushes…Imagine the sensors to be equiped with digital signal processing to draw conclusions, and WiFi to send the data immediately to a large datacenter where the data is integrated with data from billions of other sensors. This scenario you might associate chances and threats with is called Internet of Things. Fortunately, it’s all about the capability of human mankind to deal with new technologies in order to survive. This means everybody – especially you – can stop pressing like buttons, evaluating products via apps, deactivating sensor functions, and above all stop outsourcing decisions to machines.

The truly game-changing Internet of Things will rely on (amongst others) fixed broadband. 80% of the mobile traffic is assumed to be caused from indoors. If you cumulate the moderate data rates of your 2 flat screens, 2 notebooks, 3 tablets, 5 smart phones and all the connected things mentioned before, it becomes obvious that the total amount traffic becomes significant and cannot be handled over mobile networks but will be offloaded via your fixed broadband access. The cumulated traffic will become massive and the need for a future proof, ultra broadband fixed network with 1+ Gbit/s becomes clearly visible.

Perceiving ambivalent feelings regarding nationwide FTTH

When I attended the Broadband World Forum 2013 in Amsterdam, I could clearly feel a sense of urgency for FTTH deployments. FTTH Counsil Europe President Karin Ahl reckoned at a podium discussion that the tipping point for FTTH has just been reached. That is, city governments have been continuously educated about the economic importance of broadband access (For instance, the FTTH Counsil Europe assumes a GDP growth of 4.6%). Since they don’t want to be considered as late followers, this has been clearly accelerating investments since the second half of 2012. There was also a moaning, that unfortunately nobody wants to invest and complete FTTH infrastructure at once (nationwide FTTH would cost roughly US$ 100 billion). Indeed, the facts show that the FTTH market penetration in Europe is still in the order of 5% (USA 8%). Assuming a constant growth rate of 15% over the next five years, this means absolut household penetration of 10% in 2019 which is still very low compared to ranking leader South Corea with 58% in 2012. Deutsche Telekom has even stopped to name any goal for 2014 FTTH.

I’d speak of a tipping point only in terms of the perception that some incremental advancement would be needed, far from actions do I consider the actual deployment situation. It’s correct that todays average bandwidth consumption does not require FTTH. But it wouldn’t be foresightful if we didn’t anticipate society’s needs in 2040, since optical fiber is a future-proof medium. Just in times of a slowly growing economy in Europe, it would be advisable to invest anticyclic and therefore spend much more intensive on FTTH.

Get big fast with Fixed Broadband

Broadband access for every citizen cannot be underestimated; I have to emphasize again that the game-changing Internet of Things and also the future economy, will rely on fiber broadband which has a far higher capacity per user than a mobile network has. What the Internet of Things will cause to human mankind and whether the impact will be overwhelmingly positive, is of course another topic which I will dedicate a post. Personally I am absolutely convinced that it will improve the quality of life.

Truly, the future network and its data are hard to control, because it will transform from a lose to a neural network and therefore its complexity will increase dramatically. The crucial action for humans will be to retain control over decision making and not letting it be done by any network or machine. As long as human brains are capable to deal with complexity, one doesn’t have to fear anything. Being said that, the sooner a fixed broadband network is available for the long run, the better. If too late, Europe will find itself in the situation that the rest of the world is wandering off.

Thanks for reading. In the meantime I wish you a successful week and looking forward to your view on FTTH!

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