A new Connecting Everyone report from French research company IDATE has revealed many fixed wireless market opportunities in European markets for Australia’s Netcomm Wireless due to the real-world challenges in building universal Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) coverage.
Released at the IDATE DigiWorld Summit in Paris, Connecting Everyone showed ultra-fast Gfast and Fixed Wireless technology could play a key role in delivering high-speed broadband to premises currently being served with Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) technology. Of the total serviceable global and FTTH market of about 670 million premises, 60 per cent of them, 402 million premises, are currently served with FTTB.
Many operators we spoke to for this report concluded they could not see an investment case for upgrading networks from FTTB to FTTH,” said Jean-Luc Lemmens, Head of Telecom Practice at IDATE.
“This means that FTTB services will be part of the mix for a very long-time to come.”
Speaking at IDATE DigiWorld Summit – where a key topic was enabling universal high-speed connectivity – Els Baert, Director of Marketing and Communications at Netcomm agreed.
“Although the goal of delivering universal FTTH is admirable, practically every market has its own challenges that make it unrealistic,” she said.
“However, Connecting Everyone shows that there is a significant market opportunity for companies with our expertise in the FTTB market to help operators devise a solution that is easier, more cost-effective and faster to deploy.
“Our Gfast enabled 8-port and 16-port Distribution Point Units are ideally suited to deliver ultra-fast speeds and by reverse powering the device, the installation and activation is much quicker.”
NetComm (ASX:NTC) is already working with Australian operator NBN Co to deploy its Gfast enabled 8-port and 16-port DPUs onto the NBN Co Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) network in Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs) and expects the first units to be delivered in the first half of 2019.
Baert points out those European countries are now learning the same lessons that Australia learnt when it embarked on universal FTTH deployment.
“We have concluded seven lab trials and one field trial with major operators in Europe who are actively exploring alternatives to building a full FTTH network,” she said. “Due to our expertise in this field with NBN Co many operators are turning to us for our insight and innovation.”
Connecting Everyone also highlighted the lack of progress in connecting rural areas to FTTH networks, meaning regulators are now looking at a wider range of access technologies.
In France, President Macron has called for a minimum 8 Mbps bandwidth to be provided to all citizens to avoid the creation of a new digital divide.
He has therefore encouraged operators to explore the use of alternative technologies while waiting for the deployment of FTTH. One of these alternatives is Fixed Wireless – an approach also supported by NetComm.
“Fixed Wireless opens up the possibilities for alternative network providers to build high speed broadband networks far quicker and more cost effectively than delivering universal FTTH,” Baert said.
“When using 3.5GHz and 4-carrier aggregation, speeds of up to 400Mbps can be provided in a range of up to 14km around the base station. Europe could use its heritage to its advantage by harnessing its natural town planning built around churches to leverage these capabilities. By installing a base station in the towers, rural areas could be covered in record time, with minimal investment.”