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Telco 2.0: Get the Fibre Out There

An important consequence of technical change in telecoms we occasionally refer to is the shift from opex to capex; rather than buying more IPStream and upstream transit, the way to scale up is now to move to local loop unbundling and peering. Rather than laying more cables, new electronics and optoelectronics such as (10) Gigabit Ethernet and DWDM mean that the way to scale up is to swap out the boxes.

And some of the consequences of this were very clear at Telco 2.0 today.

On one hand, there were people like Dave Hughes talking about the growing demand for bandwidth from wireless systems, and also for bandwidth-guzzling video surveillance. On the other hand, all those telcos who came to find out how to make money in an IP-based world. Everyone realises that it’s getting harder to make money from the infrastructure; everyone realises that the demand for traffic is just going up. Someone’s going to have to put in the fibre. Or DOCSIS 3.0 co-ax. Or metro-Ethernet. Whatever.

And this just kept coming up. The key insight, however, is that where the fibre is actually getting built is where there are non-standard ownership models; in Vienna, where the cable operator is actually partly city-owned, in Dutch cities whose muni-fibre deployments are forcing KPN to compete, in Paris where the installation of fibre is leaking out of the sewers to head out into the suburbs on poles.

Spot the telcos.

It’s never been clearer that if you want fibre you need to build it already. Infrastructure expert Roy Gradwell made this clear with his fascinating presentation on what could be described as incremental muni-fibre; look at the buildings and land the city owns, look at your own networking needs, and then consider who else needs bandwidth around them. And then get cracking.

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