Wednesday, October 06, 2004

FTTH Council Conference and Exposition

UTOPIA leaders Paul Morris and David Shaw were awarded the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council 2004 STAR Award today for their leadership and efforts in bringing the ultimate broadband solution - fiber to the home - to 14 Utah cities. The Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) is a consortium of 14 Utah cities engaged in deploying and operating a 100% fiber optic network to every business and household (about 170,000) within its footprint. Operating at the wholesale level, it supports open access and promotes competition in all telecommunications services.

Though, FTTx won’t replace copper overnight?!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

CityNet Amsterdam Pre-selection

CityNet Amsterdam has made a pre-selection of parties for the role of Network Operator for the active layer of the Amsterdam fiber optic access network Citynet. Yesterday, they announced that the following parties have qualified themselved:
- BBned
- Siemens/Optaxx
- Versatel
- Volker Stevin

This also means the the following parties didn't qualify:
- Colt
- CS SI (Fr)
- Via Europe

The only surprise is that Siemens/Optaxx did qualify. It's nice because the founders of Optaxx are former executives of Bredband Benelux bv. Bredband was the first company that had the guts to initiate a FTTH-project in the Netherlands. Unfortunately they failed to make a sustainable business. But who knows, Optaxx could be the first real threat for KPN and the other well known existing network operators.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Dead on arrival

After returning home from a short holiday, I was shocked to see that my weblog statistics dropped to around zero. I have to conclude from this fact, that blogging is more or less like publishing a daily newspaper. Our readers expect everday news. Otherwise, our readers will become disappointed very quickly and leave you behind and you're weblog is dead.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

On a short holiday

Hope to see you after the break. The next couple of days I'm in Greece on Holiday

Thursday, August 26, 2004

German VoIP Consultation

REGTP has noticed that telecommunications networks will largely convert to packet switched technologies. Businesses are increasingly using IP-based applications for their internal and external voice communication. In Germany VoIP service offers also has been targeted at the mass market. The strong growth in broadband connections is now making this look a distinct possibility. Securing the interoperability of services and networks is therefore likely to become more important than ever for the regulators.

Guess who is the biggest voice over IP service provider in the US?

You probably said Vonage, which has roughly 200,000 paying customers. Wrong. There's another company with more than four times the subscribers delivering voice capability over broadband. It's a company you've probably heard of, though not in this context.

Give up? It's Microsoft, with its XBox live online gaming service. Xbox Live has over one million paying customers for multi-player online games. And all of them have a headset that plugs into the game console, enabling real-time voice communications with other players (TCS, August 25th, Kevin Werbach).

With the aim of the German VoIP Consultation, REGTP is seeking for clarification on how VoIP services should be regulated and how they are to be classified under the EC directives and the German Telecommunications Act. The main subjects of the public consultation are:

1.Competitive developments of VoIP;
- Business models
- Regulatory classification of VoIP models
- Numbering
- Access/ Interconnection
- Market entry barriers
2. Consumer protection and public interest
- Universal service, obligations for providers
- Telecommunications privacy
- Data protection
- Emergency calls
- Technical safeguards
- Technical implementation of intercepts
- Directory enquiry procedures

REGTP, without being explicit about it, is trying to implement the harmonised approach of regulation of electronic communications of the European Community. This approach is characterised by a three stage process with respect to regulatory obligations:
1. Market definition: NRAs define markets susceptible to ex ante regulation, appropriate to national circumstances
2. Market analysis: NRAs analyse the degree of competition on the market in a manner consistent with SMP Guidelines
3. Remedies: NRAs match the competition problems and the remedies avaibable.

Much of the consultation of REGTP has to do with stage one, the market definition:
- Is the concept of publicly available telecommunications services relevant?
- Is the concept of publicly available telecommunications network operator relevant.

I’ll have my fingers crossed. Kevin Werbach in his article in TCS, makes it very clear, that VoIP isn’t the same thing as telephony. The headset of the Xbox, enabling real-time communications with other players, the online users of Playstation 2, AOL’s ICQ and AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger offering voice chat features, the extensive VoIP functionality of Microsoft Windows Longhorn, all these developments make clear that voice communication will become a standard feature of many applications! By the way, I checked Microsoft didn't hand in a Stellungnahme to REGTP.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Visit to Jan Smits

Monday I visited Jan Smits at home in Utrecht. Jan holds a chair in Law and Technology at the University of Eindhoven. We are working together in projects concerning digital radio, FTTH and telecom regulation.

We talked about the poor performance of DGTP of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands. First I assumed it had something to do with a lack of professionalism. But this is unfair to the staff members working in the Ministry. After studying several documents about the European regulatory framework, the real explanation should be sought in the weak position of DGTP and the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the policy making process of the European Community.

The starting point for policy making of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and DGTP in particular is formed by the common regulatory framework for electronic communications and services. The preceding policy process consists of reviews, public consultation and hearings, working documents and proposals. During this process, DGTP is just one of many contributors, like other Governments, Regulatory Authorities, Industry Associations, Consumer and user bodies, market players and other commercial organisations, research institutions and universities. Later, in the Netherlands, the directives of the European Community are implemented in the Dutch Telecommunication Act. OPTA and the other National Regulatory Authorities (NRA’s) increasingly work together to ensure a consistent and harmonised approach for the regulation of electronic communications.

The preceding makes clear that the European Directives are far more important then the Dutch Telecommunications Act and that the role of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and DGTP today is modest. I wonder which competences are realistic and necessary to establish a better performance of DGTP in the communication policy making process for the Netherlands.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

FTTH: Amsterdam compared with Nuenen

In the Netherlands roll out of FTTH will happen at last. In Nuenen, according to the expectations, by the end of 2004 all households have been connected on the fiber optic network. Amsterdam has started with a public invitation to tender. Although the aim is the same, the approach by the municipalities is totally different.

Amsterdam is forging ahead with plans to connecting all 450,000 homes, businesses and organizations in the city with a fiber optic access-network. The Municipal Executive has declared that it strives for that open and universal infrastructure to reach every Amsterdam household, business and institution by 2010. The local authority will not be supplying those connections, but will entrust that task to an intended development company, Citynet Amsterdam ( This will be a communications network which is accessible to all service providers subject to the same favorable conditions, while ensuring that no vertical integration or undesirable monopolies emerge. With regard to the services, the underlying principle is that at least three basic types will be offered via this network: TV, telephone services and Internet data transmission(‘triple play’) plus services using low cost high bandwidth Intranet-type data transmission within the network.

Citynet Fiber Amsterdam will be the owner and financier of the passive infrastructure. The passive component of this infrastructure will then be let to a wholesale network operator for an agreed period of time (10 years) and the latter will operate the network subject to certain terms and conditions. This operator will be responsible for putting the network into service.

In Nuenen, 97% of the residents have signed a contract to connect their homes to the local fiber optic network. The residents, by their membership of the Nuenen Cooperative Telecom Association Our net, are joint owner and shareholder of the Network Exploitation Society (NEM). These NEM has given to Dutch company VolkerWessels the assignment to build broadband optic fibre network, with the guarantee that it must remain operational for at least 10 years. The construction of the fiber optic network will take place within the built-up area of the town of Nuenen. At the start, the services offered will be high-speed internet access and the opportunity to subscribe to a VoIP telephony service. The negotiations concerning radio - and television services are at an advanced stage.

In the short term, the approach of Nuenen offers many advantages above the approach in Amsterdam.

The marketing in Nuenen is very successful. In a short periode one has reached 97% penetration. This success can be explained by the subsidy supplied by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Every participating household acquires the right for complete compensation of the connection costs of 500 euro and the fee for subscription to high-speed Internet.

Project management
Nuenen realiseert de aansluitingen bijzonder snel. All houses of which become the eigenaren or tenants that have announced for 1 august next, to provide with a glass fibre connection for 31 December 2004. In Nuenen zijn initiatiefnemers, eigenaren, opdrachtgevers en contractonderhandeling namens de afnemers, allemaal bij één en dezelfde partij. Zowel de passieve als de actieve infrastructuur wordt door Volker Wessels geleverd. Dit maakt dat de slagvaardigheid groot is

In Nuenen there are a just a minor legal problems to solve. They don’n have to gain in-depth knowledge concerning all kinds of problems with NMa, OPTA and existing service providers. Also there are no complex organisational problems. VolkerWessels takes the responsibility for the design, construction, management and maintenance of the fiber optic network. Therefore, there are no uncertainties caused by lack of knowledge.

I belief the Amsterdam approach is more sustainable than Nuenen approach in the long run. There is more thorough knowledge of fiber optic networks and the organisation is much more robust. It seems history repeats itself. We'll still travel to Amsterdam go to the Van Gogh museum, although it was in Nuenen that Van Gogh painted most or his Dutch paintings. Amsterdam will draw a lot of attention, but Nuenen wil be the first Dutch town with a fiber optic network.