Jazztel, ZTE test 10G GPON

ZTE Corp. (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ) says it has conducted a full-service commercial 10G GPON test for Spanish network operator Jazztel. The test verified GPON and 10G PON co-existence, which ZTE touts as proof that its 10G PON platform is "capable of supporting any service under all foreseeable scenarios."

Jazztel selected ZTE to supply GPON equipment for a nationwide fiber to the home (FTTH) network that began operations in October 2013 (see "ZTE provides turnkey FTTH network for Jazztel in Spain"). The service provider was interested in pathways to future capacity expansion.

"Jazztel needs to constantly innovate in order to provide our customers with the best possible service and ensure our competitiveness. The ZTE xGPON solution enables the expansion of our FTTH network capabilities in an effective manner," said Jazztel CEO José Miguel Garcia Fernández.

"We are delighted to have collaborated with Jazztel in completing the first 10G PON full-service commercial network test in Spain," summarized Xiao Ming, vice president of ZTE. "Our 10G PON solution will enable carriers to simplify their networks, improve broadband efficiency, and meet the ever increasing demand for ultra-high broadband to pave the way for revenue generation with tiered service categories. We are committed to working with carriers and other stakeholders to advance the proliferation of 10G PON applications."

India’s National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) backbone project

The NOFN project aims to connect over 250,000 gram panchayats (local government institutions in villages or small towns) across India. The aim is to sow the seeds for an e-revolution in the rural parts of the country by empowering the nation to provide better e-governance, e-health services, and educational services at the grass roots level. Scheduled to be complete by September 2015, the project will provide high-speed broadband Internet to all 250,000 gram panchayats with speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

The NOFN project is being rolled out by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), the special-purpose vehicle setup under India's Department of Telecom. BBNL has divided the project into six packages – East, West, North, South, Central, and Northeast – and separate bids have been accepted in each of the six zones. The total value of this project has been set at $3.3 billion.

FTTH subscriber growth accelerates says FTTH Council Europe

The growth in the number of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or fiber to the building (FTTB) subscribers is picking up in Europe, according to the latest figures presented at the FTTH Conference 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden. However, there is much work to be done before the region can be considered a mature market.

The total number of FTTH/B subscribers in Europe's EU28 increased by 29% in 2013 – substantially faster than the year before when growth was around 15%. In total, 13 countries in the European Union experienced growth in FTTH/B subscribers of greater than 30% over the past year, including Spain (64%), the Netherlands (43%), France, and Portugal (each 41%).

The growth rate in subscribers (29%) was greater than the increase in homes passed (22%). The FTTH Council Europe views this positively, because it indicates that FTTH is becoming more attractive to consumers. "It is good news for operators, who all need to see a better return on their investment. It is also good news for end users, because a larger subscriber base will encourage more companies to develop services and applications, and help drive down consumer prices," the organization said.

When countries outside the European Union are included – what the FTTH Council Europe calls the EU39 – the growth rate was even higher. Russia alone counts almost 9 million subscribers, of which 1.4 million were added in 2013. The largest FTTH/B markets in the European Union are France and Sweden, which exceed 1.2 million FTTH/B subscribers each, while the Ukraine has 1.3 million subscribers, and Turkey has 1.1 million.

These numbers sound impressive, but the FTTH/B market has a long way to go in many countries. According to analyst firm Heavy Reading, a country only reaches the “fiber maturity” when 20% of its households are FTTH/B subscribers. This is an important metric, because it indicates that a country has a subscriber base large enough to sustain development of new services for high-speed networks. So far only nine countries around the world have reached this threshold, and only three of them are European – namely Lithuania, Sweden and Latvia.

"We need to do more and I can't help but feel that some policy makers underestimate the danger of not getting to fiber to the home networks quickly enough," said Karin Ahl, President of the FTTH Council Europe, in her opening speech at the FTTH Conference. "The world is changing faster and faster. If we look at advanced economies like the United States, then by some measures 70% of the value of their economy is composed of firms that did not exist 30 years ago".

"In this changing world we need more than flexible labor markets and great education systems if we want to keep up. We also need the right infrastructure … If a city or a country doesn't have the right infrastructure, then investments will be made elsewhere."

Vietnam thinks of the solutions to popularize FTTH

The latest survey conducted in Hanoi and HCM City, the two biggest FTTH service markets in Vietnam, has found that only 7 percent of businesses use FTTH, a very low figure if noting that the proportion is 37 percent in South Korea, 21 percent in Hong Kong and 50 percent in Singapore.

Advanced technology inaccessible to users

FTTH has been utilized in Vietnam for seven years. From the very beginning, it was believed to replace ADSL technology, because it allows Internet users to better access Internet-based facilities, such as watching films or TV programs, playing games.

However, it seemingly would take a longer time than initially expected to make FTTH more popular to people. One of the biggest barriers that keep clients away is the high fee.

Though mobile network operators have been trying to encourage people to use FTTH by offering fee discounts, the number of FTTH has not seen considerable increases. People believe that the FTTH service fee is still not low enough, while ADSL still has been "acceptable"

Analysts have pointed out that one of the other problems is that the products are not diversified enough to satisfy different groups of customers. FTTH has been automatically understood by people as the "luxurious" or "high end" service, which is reserved only for the big enterprises with strong financial capability.

The monthly subscription of millions of dong proved to be unaffordable to the majority of Vietnamese families. Therefore, most of them still use ADSL even though they have been warned about the upcoming end of the ADSL era.

Popularizing high end services

Despite the low percentage of FTTH service subscribers, telcos still hope that they have great opportunities to develop in the home market.

Analysts have commented that the service provider who can provide services at reasonable fees will be the winner in the market competition.

At a workshop about the future of the Internet economy held in late 2013, experts affirmed ADSL will not be able to satisfy the services of the future due to the low and unstable quality.

A question was raised that which technology will replace ADSL? Two options were predicted: FTTH with outstanding advantages, or Internet on TV cable system.

FTTH proves to be the most perfect solution, except the high service fee. If the problem can be settled, FTTH will surely be the growing tendency among Internet users.

In fact, telcos have been moving ahead with their plans to target medium class clients and individual clients instead of focusing on high income earners as they did previously.

The military telco Viettel is believed to be the pioneer in popularizing FTTH service. The subscribers of Eco FTTH of Viettel now have to pay VND350,000 a month only to use the 12 Mbps bandwidth, just a little higher than the ADSL subscription fee. Other big guys are believed to join the race of lowering the service fee soon, which will heat up the FTTH market.

Seville City Gets High Speed Broadband Service From Orange

High speed broadband services through Fiber-to-the-home comes to the southern city of Spain, Seville. The Orange Spain made an announcement that its FTTH services would be available to houses in East Seville, Parque Alcosa, San Pablo, Pino Montano and Amate. The service provider targets an initial coverage of around 180,000 houses.

Orange is in partnership with Vodafone to bring fiber optic broadband services to the houses and businesses in Spain. We have reported the co-operation of these service providers for their mutual benefit that would be eventually good for the subscribers to get faster and cost effective broadband. The telecom regulatory authority of Spain, CMT had taken measures that brought the competing service providers under an umbrella of co-operation and share their networks each other.

The project cost of the fiber optic network to provide broadband services to Seville is around Euro 15 million. Orange plans spread this network to the areas of Triana, Los Remedios, Nervión, San Bernardo, Arenal and the city centre at the second stage of network development. The partners for FTTH deployment in Spain, Orange and Vodafone have plans to lay next generation networks in 50 major cities in Spain. Through these networks they intend to provide high speed broadband services to 6 million households and businesses.

With around 1.5 million population, Seville is the fourth largest city and is one of the historically important cities in Spain.