In this episode recorded at the Broadband World Forum, we speak with Andrew van der Haar Haar, Fiber Carrier Association, Donovan Artz and Greg Aston from ETI. Andrew shares the origin and current state of the Fiber Carrier Association. We talk about the trends in Open Access Networks as well as standards adoption. Donovan talks about trends in device management and IoT. We discuss data privacy and wonder if the CIA subscribes to this podcast? Greg reflects on how providers are and aren’t yet using analytics to improve operations and subscriber satisfaction.
Andrew van der Haar: My background is ICT from the mid-nineties and I also run a data center and from that point of view I saw the Netherlands fragmented on the carrier side. In talking to some of the carriers I asked, "Is there a trade association for you?" And they all said, "Well, no, but we would like to have a trade association." They said for the association it's important to have someone from the industry not active as a carrier themselves to fulfill that role. So for now, I'm still fulfilling that role to promote it.
Pete Pizzutillo: How do you get companies across an industry thinking the same way?
Andrew van der Haar: In the first year we started with collaboration, sharing knowledge, and introduced quarterly meetings for the Netherlands carriers who have passive network in the ground already. We have 70 networks active in the Netherlands, and another 100 in development. So that's why we want to function as a bridge to those new initiatives who want to roll out that there is already expertise in the Netherlands, already networks in the ground where they can plug in or use them for connectivity from HUB or help them build out their own network.
Pete Pizzutillo: It seems like a great waste of capacity if you can’t figure out how to co-use or co-lease or co-operate on an existing infrastructure.
Andrew van der Haar: That's true and a hurdle we noticed is that a lot of networks are known but not used by each other because they are afraid of the standard they use, that a network is not a good enough, so that's where as the Fiber Carrier Association; by a standardizing the architecture of the building networks. All the members can build their own network layout, but if it's feasible for the other players then it's easier to hook on and reuse capacity that is normally not used.
Pete Pizzutillo: In the US they have private networks, government networks, municipals and local run networks, and research and engineering, healthcare networks. If you look at all the initiatives going on to bridge the digital divide, you must wonder in 10 years if we're going to be completely over-built. Do you guys have the same kind of environment going on?
Andrew van der Haar: For the Netherlands you saw a few years ago that there was no newly built networks, or on the dark fiber side you saw still builds of new networks, but on the fiber-to-the-home networks it was a completely still network, so nobody built any networks because there was no funding. But a few years ago, where those new initiatives found a way to get investors on board, for pension funds on board, so there's money. Where there's money they start to build and now you see really overbuilding on the fiber-to-the-home projects, and I think that's a really bad signal for the end user because the consumer doesn't know anything about the network build and they just see, "Oh, there are two fibers now in my home," or in business-to-business where there are seven different fiber providers active in one building. And then you don't think it's a really big building, just a 2000 square meters, then they have a choice of seven networks, so that's really crazy and waste of money.
Andrew van der Haar: Competition in broadband market is really important because supports innovation and reduces consumer costs. But on the broadband infrastructure, on the traffic, the data traffic, you should not compete with each other but work together because then there is still the power to innovate and to reduce the cost of networks.
Pete Pizzutillo: Are you getting any help from the government that's saying, "Hey, let's be reasonable here because we're all impacted by the electric consumption, aesthetics, safety and security."
Andrew van der Haar: The government does help but they struggle in their own telecommunication law where it says telecommunication is open for the market and its competition thrives so we can't do much about it. It's a bit silly of course and that's why at the Fiber Carrier Association always says, "Well, you have to make a cut on the infrastructure and on the services and make the competition on the services that tries the innovation, but find a solution on the infrastructure to work together." That doesn't mean there needs to be one big nationwide infrastructure, but everyone can be a separate company and do their own things, but their day should be like a level playing field on how to connect to each other and how to work to each other and where they are access cities you need to rebuild a new network, but on the other hand you need to reuse networks or dots that are already in the ground.
Pete Pizzutillo: If you remember ARPANET, you know the origins of the internet, without cooperation, transparency and coordination, you would never get to the scale that we got to once we unlocked those proprietary systems and made them accessible to the masses. And that's really what you're proposing to make sure that we can leverage the power of.
Andrew van der Haar: Companies and the government are concerned about the safety, of course, for the networks if it's one network, but then you can put the resources in place for building safer networks there, encrypt light paths, et cetera. So it's still a safe network for all parties if it's for the government or for a defense department or for the electricity companies who don't want to share data. That's possible as well. If they know from each other that they start building up a network, find each other and go talk to each other and see if there is a solution on co-invest because that's also a possibility from the European new electronic coach to go invest in a network and build solutions on that.
Pete Pizzutillo: So you came to the Broadband World Forum, to give a presentation about this very topic.
Andrew van der Haar: I did and a panel discussion about switching off copper. So of course, as Fiber Carrier Association, we're really fond of switching off copper, but on the same reason, I think, because there is not fully fiber networks all around Europe, it's still important that there is also innovation on the copper networks, so consumers or companies who do need a high speed internet and when there is no 5G, or something else around that, there is still a legacy network that can be used. So switching off copper is important, but I think it's also important to see where it's switched off.
Pete Pizzutillo: Right. How can our listeners find more about you and The Fiber Carrier Association?
Andrew van der Haar: They can look it up on our website, on thefibercarriers.nl and we also have a small English page.