Swisscom chooses supplier for its FTTS expansion

Swisscom has outlined plans to provide 80% of all the households in Switzerland with ultra-high-speed Internet access by no later than 2020. Its plan includes a mix of technologies. While fiber-optic cables are being rolled out directly to homes and businesses in many towns and larger municipalities, Swisscom is focusing on fiber-to-the-street (FTTS) in areas away from major urban centers. Swisscom says it has now selected Huawei as its strategic partner and supplier for the FTTS expansion.

From the end of 2013, Swisscom will start offering ultra-fast Internet and multimedia services, even in areas which will not be connected to fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) in the coming years. To this end, Swisscom is laying fiber-optic cables to within about 200 m from buildings and using the existing copper cables to cover the remaining distance. FTTS enables bandwidths of up to 100 Mbps with current technologies. In three to four years, bandwidths of 400 Mbps or more will become possible, the operator says.

In early 2012, Swisscom put out a public call for tender for the supply of the FTTS network elements. Several network supply companies responded to the call. Having thoroughly examining the different offers, Swisscom picked Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. The two parties have now signed a collaboration agreement, which will run for eight years.

“We are pleased to be expanding our existing collaboration with Huawei on fiber-optic expansion. In Huawei, we have found an excellent, trustworthy partner with many years of experience and a high degree of security awareness,” said Heinz Herren, head of network and IT division at Swisscom. “Their solution offers us the best technological possibilities for expanding our FTTS broadband network in Switzerland.”

The contract primarily covers delivery of the active network components for installation in Swisscom cable ducts and construction projects. The contractual volume will be about CHF 300 million ($325 million) in total and is a part of the planned investment budget. In 2013 alone, Swisscom expects to invest approximately CHF 1.75 billion ($1.9 billion) in infrastructure expansion in Switzerland.

Swisscom launched FTTS pilot networks in the municipalities of Charrat (Valais), Grandfontaine (Jura) and Flerden (Grisons) in the autumn of 2012. Huawei’s technology will be implemented in these three municipalities. The first customers in these communities can already use services based on these new technologies. Swisscom will start to roll out FTTS at other locations by the end of 2013. The operator will also provide reseller offers for other telecommunications and Internet service providers on the new access technology to support competition.

UAE ranked first in global ranking of FTTH penetration rate!

As result of its annual study for the MENA FTTH market Panorama, FTTH Council MENA announced during their 4th annual conference in Doha, Qatar on 12 and 13 December 2012 the UAE as number One in the Global Ranking of Homes penetration. UAE is taking the lead of the Global Ranking with FTTH penetration rate of 64.8 per cent

The ranking covers all countries with at least 200,000 households where the penetration of FTTH/B has reached 1% of the total number of homes.

In June 2012, 32 countries were members of the Global Ranking with South Korea leading around 57% of Homes subscribing to FTTH and UAE has been included for years in the Global Ranking at top places to reach the top 1 in 2012.

Furthermore, three others MENA countries are entering the Ranking KSA, Qatar and Jordan.

“I am proud to mention in this occasion and based on our research as of the end of September that four Arab countries have entered the global ranking of being among the top 36 countries in the world of fiber homes passed and homes connected, and they are UAE, Saudi, Qatar, and Jordan, and also very proud to mention that the number one rank was occupied by the UAE. This is a clear testimony that our region indeed does have lots of potential and capability,” said Mr Faris Awartani, Chairman of FTTH Council MENA during the opening of the conference in Doha.

It is worth to mention that the MENA region is the home of the highest Take Rates of homes subscribed versus homes connected with an average of 41% comparing to France, UK and Switzerland as per IDATE the Consulting & Research partner of FTTH Council MENA.

BT details next phase of fiber broadband deployments

BT says that it plans to pass an additional 1.2 million premises in the upcoming phase of its fiber-optic broadband network deployment. When the phase is completed, BT says its fiber-optic network footprint will encompass approximately 19 million premises.

The new deployment phase will see Openreach, BT’s local network deployment arm, upgrade 99 new exchanges by Spring 2014. The targeted exchanges serve approximately 600,000 premises, mostly in Scotland, the Midlands, the North East, and North West of England. Openreach will reach another 600,000 premises in BT’s existing footprint with new fiber-optic cable infrastructure as well.

BT says that it has identified 1,700 exchange areas across the UK that will make up the majority of its commercial fiber footprint. It plans to reach additional exchanges with the help of the British Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) program.

Said Mike Galvin, managing director, NGA at Openreach, “Our fiber deployment continues to gather pace. Our engineers are working round the clock to hit our ambitious target of reaching two-thirds of UK premises with fiber during Spring 2014 – at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable. The work doesn’t stop there, however, as we are also helping to roll out fiber to other parts of the country working in partnership with local authorities as part of the BDUK activity.”

The fiber-based broadband network comprises both fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technologies. BT did not reveal how it will split the upcoming deployments between the two technologies. However, it noted that this spring, Openreach will begin to make FTTP commercially available on demand in areas where it has deployed FTTC.

France will pledge nearly 20 billion euros ($27 billion) Of public and private funds over the next decade to speed up construction of high-speed fibre broadband networks and spur economic growth.

Telecom operators such as France Telecom and Vivendi have been slow to invest in such projects because of the cost.

“High-speed broadband will strengthen the competitiveness of our companies and the quality of our public services,” President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday in a speech outlining the plan. “It is an opportunity to preserve and develop employment.”

High unemployment and belt-tightening from companies and consumers have brought the French economy to a standstill.

Hollande has said growth this year will fall short of his government’s 0.8 percent target, pushing deficit-cutting goals further out of reach.

Three tranches of more than 6 billion euros each will fund the planned network rollout, Hollande said. One will come from network operators, one from a mix of operators and local government and the last from state and local-government money.

Local governments’ outlay will be funded using tax-free, regulated deposits gathered by state bank Caisse des Depots.

By 2017, the end of President Hollande’s first term, 50 percent of the country will be covered under the plan.

Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy announced a similar plan, worth 4.5 billion euros, as part of a post-crisis stimulus package. But operators’ reluctance to invest outside big cities meant it never got off the ground.

The new plan offers a different route by allowing operators to share rollout costs in less profitable areas. ($1 = 0.7487 euro) (Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus and Leila Abboud; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

Winners and losers emerge in Europe’s race to a fibre future

Russia sees a dramatic 42% increase in the number of FTTH subscribers, while more steady growth of 15% is reported in Europe, where Lithuania and Sweden lead the way.

FTTH CONFERENCE 2013, LONDON, 20 February 2013 – European fibre to the home (FTTH) deployment continues to grow steadily, but the gap between the leaders and laggards is increasing, according to the latest figures from the FTTH Council Europe, presented during a press conference held during the FTTH Conference 2013 at London's ExCeL exhibition centre today.

Russia has emerged as a clear fibre leader in the region. The country added 2.2 million new FTTH subscribers in the second half of 2012 – more than all of Europe’s 27 Member States combined – to reach a grand total of 7.5 million fibre-connected homes. This corresponds to a dramatic increase in FTTH subscribers of more than 42%.

Across the EU27 countries, the number of FTTH subscribers continued to grow at an accelerated rate of 15% in the second half of 2012. During this period, Europe added 820,000 subscribers in total, bringing the number of fibre-connected homes to 6.24 million. Scandinavia, Baltic countries and the Netherlands contributed 26% of these new subscribers, Eastern European economies 33%, and France and Portugal 30%.

The top five "dynamic" economies, where not only subscriber growth in the past year was high but also where new 2012 subscribers represented the highest proportion of total subscriber at end-2012 were Turkey, Ukraine, Spain, Bulgaria and Russia. In Turkey, subscribers more than doubled in the last year. Spain, new entrant in the FTTH ranking since June 2012, also confirmed its dynamism.

In terms of household penetration, the dominant fibre nation remains Lithuania, which already has 100% coverage of FTTH and over 31% of homes connected to fibre. Sweden takes second place in the European FTTH Ranking, with 22.6% of homes having FTTH subscriptions. In the ranking, ten nations can now claim more than 10% FTTH penetration, up from seven in June 2012. In order from the top they are Lithuania, Sweden, Bulgaria, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark and Portugal.

"Eastern Europe and Scandinavian countries have reinforced their position as fibre leaders, and the disparity between the early and late adopters is becoming even more apparent," said Karin Ahl, President of the FTTH Council Europe. "These FTTH leaders are gaining an economic advantage over their less well-connected neighbours. Good communications infrastructure helps to retain existing businesses and attract new ones. Fibred-up nations can make a head start on deploying new services like remote health care and smart grid technologies. Countries that delay the roll out of FTTH are looking at a serious lost opportunity to prepare for their economic future."

Many of the major western economies are still dragging their feet over fibre. Italy and Spain remain at the bottom of the FTTH ranking, and once again, Germany and the UK failed to qualify. The number of fibre connected homes in the UK stands at less than 0.1%.

The FTTH Market Panorama, which is updated twice a year by IDATE for the FTTH Council Europe, records the number of subscribers in each country across the continent of Europe, and ranks them according to the percentage of homes taking a direct fibre connection. The panorama includes both FTTH and fibre to the building or FTTB, an approach suited to apartment blocks where the building’s existing cabling can be used to make the final connection to the customer.

To be included in the FTTH Ranking, a country must have more than 1% of households connected to FTTH and more than 200,000 households.

Media note: A high-resolution graphic showing the economies with highest penetration of FTTH/B can be downloaded on

EU budget cuts to fragment European FTTH landscape

As if there weren’t enough items on the agenda, attendees at next week’s FTTH Council Europe FTTH Conference suddenly have something new to talk about: the likelihood that the European Union will not fund broadband infrastructure deployments over the next seven years.

The decision to reduce the items in Neelie Kroes’s toolkit over the next seven years to “a good scolding” not only diminishes her influence, but calls into question the will of Europe to extend broadband access to those not easily reached economically via current wireline technology. It particularly clouds the future of fiber to the home (FTTH) as the medium of choice for super-fast broadband in the region, since fiber-optic broadband networks represent the most expensive option available.

Assuming the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) remains as is (it still must be ratified by the European Parliament), the burden for meeting the Digital Agenda’s goals will fall squarely on each member-state. Given the varying levels of fiscal health among these countries, it seems likely that “broadband for all” may not be equally high on each country’s list of things to do.

The first consequence will be fewer new initiatives. The subsequent consequence in some cases will be funding shortfalls for existing initiatives.

Service providers therefore should expect to have more responsibility for meeting broadband goals thrust upon them. In turn, we can expect these service providers to whine even more loudly about government regulations as a disincentive to investment. Current programs will slow, and new ones will take longer to begin.

And with funding likely more difficult to scrape together until the regional economy improves significantly, we’re likely to see more emphasis on “economical” broadband approaches. That means more fiber to the cabinet and less fiber to the home. It may also mean increased reliance on mobile broadband approaches.

The European FTTH community knows what it’s up against. “By reducing the financial envelope down to €1 billion for telecommunications, there will be no room for the support of fibre infrastructure investments,” said FTTH Council Europe President Karin Ahl in response to the MFF.

“Now that the EU Member States have failed to realize the importance of the digital part of the Connecting Europe Facility, the role of the FTTH Council Europe on the investment and financing side will be even more important – and we are looking forward to face this challenge,” she concluded

The council had better be up for the challenge. The battle for fiber-based broadband in Europe just took a turn for the worse.

FTTM: The Future of Fiber-To-The-Meter

One of the main objectives of the U.S. government is to encourage fiber-based broadband networks to provide high-speed digital broadband access that will help stimulate economic growth in the 21st Century. At the same time, the Government’s focus is to create a green environment to save energy.

Toward that end, major utility providers are deploying smart grids at a very fast pace to overhaul and modernize their existing grids. Simultaneously, utility operators want to establish intelligent telecommunications that facilitate the needs of effective power distribution, intelligent monitoring and better management of power at consumer premises.

With FTTH being deployed by many providers, it would be ideal for telecom operators and utility companies to more aggressively work together to accelerate a smart grid roll out. This would avoid the cost and complexity of building and maintaining two separate communication networks. Extending the FTTx network to smart grid infrastructures allows utilities to collect real-time data, perform on-demand outages, and monitor the power utilization.

Change Is Upon Us

Historically, utilities have had no proper communication channels. Some utility operators leased E1/T1 links while others relied on xDSL circuits. The bottom line is this: A fast and reliable infrastructure is critical for Utility smart grids that require data and power to move upstream and downstream. That’s where smart meters come into play. They facilitate nearly real-time, two-way communication.

Currently, telecom operators consider Fiber-to-the-x (FTTx) as the best method to deliver their telecom services to subscribers. FTTx has many network varieties, depending on the termination point: premises (FTTp), home (FTTh), curb/cabinet (FTTc), or node (FTTn). FTTx has the advantage of bringing innovative high-speed telecom services such as IPTV, Video-on-Demand, voice, high-speed data access, infotainment and edutainment while also providing some bandwidth for utility services.

With these FTTx architectures, fiber-like, high-speed, low-latency networks are ideally suited for a variety of smart grid applications including on-demand meter reading, outage management, and continual power quality monitoring.

In addition, fiber networks are capable of handling data intensive applications such as distribution automation and demand response, which enables utility companies and their customers to interact near real-time in load shedding, price signaling, other conservation, and cost-saving activities.

SmartComms Is What?

The good news is there is now a way utility and telecom providers can help each other. This solution is called Smartcomms, which is a solution for utility service providers to monitor the meter reading with real-time data consumption at the centralized management location.

In addition, this process can potentially:

  • Detect service related problems.
  • Change the tariffs as per the consumer requirements.
  • Limit or increases the pumping capacity.
  • Deliver accurate invoices to provide specific information for monitoring and energy management purposes.

Smartcomms Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), with high-speed and redundant fiber optic communication network refers to systems that measure, collect and analyze energy usage from advanced devices (i.e. electricity meters, gas meters, and/or water meters) through optical fiber communication media on request or a pre-defined schedule.

A typical Smartcomms network consisting of several different components including:

  • Meter and modules.
  • AMI communications link consisting of FTTx (optical fiber) network, collectors, data concentrators or meter take off points with the network management system.
  • A MDM application to handle the large volumes of interval data. An advanced meter will collect the reading of all different utilities such as electricity, water, gas, and heat by means of a Home Area Network (HAN) communication link. Those readings, collectively or individually, will be sent to a data concentrator, which acts as a local collector of the information for a particular street area.
  • The HAN/LAN communication is connected through the existing FTTx network. The data from the data concentrator is then sent to the Network Management System (NMS) or data center for computation and billing purposes.

In a nutshell, fiber optic connectivity offers very high bandwidth over extended distances for utilities looking to improve their smart grid communications. It is the perfect network infrastructure to facilitate device-to-device connections for utility operators. With telecom providers looking for additional revenue and utility companies looking for ways to improve their two-way data collecting efforts, a stronger partnership between the two will benefit both.