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FTTH Council Europe renews call for action

Europe needs to take stronger action to encourage fibre to the home (FTTH) deployment, says the new president of the FTTH Council Europe.

Edgar Aker, currently director of marketing and business development strategy for the Prysmian Group (a role he retains while leading the FTTH Council Europe), was elected at the Council’s general assembly in Amsterdam on 22 and 23 April. He is the seventh person to hold this position since the organisation was founded in 2004, replacing outgoing president Karin Ahl.

“We call for action on decision makers and other stakeholders to create a favourable environment for the roll-out of fibre.  The FTTH Council Europe strongly believes that Europe needs fibre now!” stated Aker.

While the council’s message has not changed, there appears to be a new sense of urgency about their call. The European Commission’s Digital Agenda programme is half-way through, but progress on the more demanding target – half of Europe’s citizens subscribing to 100Mb/s connections by 2020 – has been slow.

The FTTH Council Europe’s new strategy for accelerating fibre deployment revolves around creating a business friendly environment for fibre within Europe through a combination of policy reform and regulation.

The council has identified several themes where action is needed. A key focus will be to encourage policy makers to consider new business models such as structural separation, where the network infrastructure is owned separately from the companies supplying the services. This model has been seen to be working in New Zealand, where the incumbent separated into Chorus (infrastructure) and Spark (services). Recently O2 Czech Republic became the first European operator to voluntarily separate.

Technology neutrality is another area of concern. The FTTH Council Europe wants to see real technology neutrality, where broadband speed targets are genuinely future proof, and are set without reference to the constraints imposed by the capabilities of current technologies.

The council also recommended encouraging member states to act as anchor clients on new broadband networks, as they are often large consumers of IT services. When these clients buy new services they can help speed up deployment by providing a steady source of income for operators of their local infrastructure.

The call for action was led by new president Edgar Aker, supported by a new board, who were also elected at the general assembly. Ronan Kelly, chief technology officer for Adtran’s EMEA and APAC regions takes up a new role as treasurer and vice president. Alcatel-Lucent’s Ana Pesovic and Thomas Kallstenius from iMinds are also vice presidents.

Adtran's Kelly said: “I’ve always been inspired by the continuing mission of the FTTH Council Europe to promote investment and adoption of FTTH/FTTB services. I’m keen for the Council to extend its work helping operators navigate European funding and regulatory complexities in order to increase their deployment rates.”

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