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Thursday, 28 August 2008

Local for Local

Interesting article here showing how, in the US, legal and regulatory issues about municipalities retailing services from their self-funded FTTH networks are being overcome. And why those open networks which retail directly to their consumers more often succeed than those who are strapped trying to attract service providers.

We have seen this as a major issue in the EU where State Aid and anti-competitive regulations often cause the failure of projects rather than guaranteeing their success, or even achievement (and not just in telecoms).

An interesting point to note is the benefits of a public and local utility type company where the benefits can spread across from one sector to another viz from fibre comms through to electricity supply. All of these save the public purse, ie our money, from being spent unwisely, and it is this level of joined-up thinking which often seems to be missing in the public sector at present in the UK. Civil servants can be far too precious about their department, or budgets, or careers, to think out of the box and look at the big picture which inevitably FTTH must be. It is not just about health care, or education, or home users - it is about connecting all of these sectors together and operating co-operatively.

The main point for me though of the article is the fact that many communities, large and small, urban and rural, are seeking to solve the problem themselves locally (JFDI), where incumbents and telcos do not wish to tread, for multiple reasons, but usually involving profit margins. This really is what we need to do in the UK but perhaps with a level of standardisation that is not implied in this US article - where each municipality is making its own call on tech, business model etc adopted. There is no reason not to adopt different models to suit the demographics, topology or other differences in our municipalities, but each community needs to interconnect seamlessly with others, or it will become an island within an island.

I have some thoughts about how to ensure that the right advice gets to the right decision makers and purse string holders to ensure a cohesive FTTH deployment in the UK, but I'll save that for another day!

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