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European wholesalers create alliance to accelerate fibre network rollout

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Some of Europe’s most recognisable full fibre wholesale-only and open access operators recently met in Rome in presence of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) chair, Johannes Gungl; and director general of FTTH Council Europe, Erzsebet Fitori. The group gathered to discuss the future of the telecommunications market and explore opportunities to accelerate the deployment and take-up of full fibre infrastructure across Europe.

As might be expected, there was ample time dedicated during the meeting to the new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), which is specifically addressed to wholesale only operators, providing them with a specific and lighter regulatory regime.

The wholesale only model, providing access to multiple service providers without discrimination, is an ideal medium for the installation of very high capacity networks, as foreseen by the EECC, as well as a useful tool to facilitate the activation of services such as Internet of Things (IOT) and 5G. The new code encourages wholesale only operators by providing them with a specific, light regulatory regime as they naturally provide access to multiple telecom service providers without discrimination or abuses.

The meeting ended with the creation of an alliance aimed at promoting the advantages of the wholesale only model to governments, regulators and financial investors, as well as promoting the awareness of these independent fibre networks to service providers and mobile operators. The alliance also believes it has a role in educating and informing the European consumer about what genuine very high capacity networks are and is challenging the misuse of the word ‘fibre’ in marketing broadband services that are delivered on legacy copper-based networks.

Companies attending the meeting which form the alliance are: CityFibre, from the UK; Deutsche Glasfaser from Germany; Open Fiber, from Italy; Gagnaveita Reykjavikur, from Iceland; and SIRO, from Ireland.

Commenting on the meeting, Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Open Fiber, stated: ‘It has been a great pleasure for Open Fiber to host the meeting. The companies gathering in Rome have agreed to create an alliance to share best-practice and to promote the benefits and advantages of the full fibre wholesale-only, which deliver full fibre infrastructure far more efficiently than vertically integrated incumbent operators.’

Sean Atkinson, CEO of SIRO added: ‘The EU Digital Agenda is ambitious, and we believe that the new generation of non-incumbent 100 per cent fibre companies are best placed to help achieve its goals. We are delighted to be part of this new alliance and look forward to presenting a united voice on the importance of FTTH and FTTB is crucial at this important moment for European connectivity.’

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said: ‘Wholesale only has been at the heart of CityFibre’s strategy from day one. It is the new generation of fibre infrastructure operators that are building FTTH faster, quicker and cheaper than incumbent legacy operators, and CityFibre welcomes collaboration with our alliance partners across Europe.’

Agreed Uwe Nickl, CEO of Deutsche Glasfer: ‘Sharing best practices to speed up deployment and take-up of pure FTTH networks is a crucial factor in achieving the European fibre goals. Together we can really move.’

Erling Freyr Guomundsson, CEO of Reykjavik Fiber Network (Gagnaveita Reykjavikur), concluded: ‘This new alliance will strengthen Reykjavik Fiber Network in its mission, driving better consumer experience for our customers and our wholesale allies’ customers. We are certain that the wholesale open access business model can drive competition and increase the quality of connections.’

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