Monday, March 31, 2008

Open Fiber: Dirk van der Woude

Dirk van der Woude: I'm not an American, so I didn't learn how to present in public in kindergarten, so I need PowerPoint. I'll start to tell you more about why this meeting is important for the Netherlands, as well as American telecommunications and connectivity. You see, approved by Brussels.

I see people, children, walking around very proud. This is a campaign map of New Guinea in 1944. They came to a territory in which people were living in the stone age. The child you see is now, but her grandfather was born in 1920. In two generations, you can go from being in the stone age to being in the modern world. Yes, we can.

This is Europe. All of France is occupied except for this small, small village in Normandy. It's still fighting. This is how Amsterdam has felt for some time. All of the Durch old-fashioned incumbent telecoms are now owned by English and American corporations. Just a few percentage points are still owned by the Dutch. This is what it feels like to be a colony. Some people say we never should have given away the copper network, but we did.

In 2005, we started with a fiber network. What's the average citizen's perspective? Are we at the end of the last mile, or the first mile? We didn't want to be locked in.

In 1926, people started to think about highways. The highway was built. They started far before Hitler. The market had the vision, but it didn't have the long-term money. To head back to Amsterdam, you know we have canals. They bring in the tourists, and Americans complain about things being expensive. We have some paintings, and that's good essence. We have a harbor. It used to be the largest in Europe. We didn't take care of it, but it's still a lot of jobs in Amsterdam. We also have Schilpol Airport. And we have another harbor that's No. 1 in the world, the Amsterdam fiber exchange.

Because of that development, we started to think about whether today's networks are going to cut it. Or should we have another network? What we learned in Amsterdam is that you have to invest in infrastructure if you want to keep up with technological development.

It's not so much the backbone that's going to be the problem, it's the first mile. What's the state of the first mile at the moment? .2Mpbs per second is still counted as broadband. What to do about that? Do we want fraudband? The real world will have shared bandwidth.

Let's talk about fiber to the home in Europe. There's a great example in France. They decided to do the fiber thing, and it's 60 million Euros in subsidy. The most important thing is what happened in Germany. They were very slow, but suddenly, fiber started. In Cologne, two fiber networks were deployed in parallel. Now it's in Hamburg and Munich, where they've done 60-70% of Munich. In Germany, when they start something, they end it. This will be a big, big thing in Europe.

And in Amsterdam, we believe that a city with a great future is not a city without fiber to the home. We got the approval. We have three programs in Amsterdam. The fiber to the home program has 40,000 address. I can't say what we're doing for the other 400,000 homes. We also have fiber to the theater. The last theaters in Amsterdam are now provided with 1Gb/s. And 70% of all the children under 18 have parents and grandparents who weren't born in the Netherlands. So we're connecting the schools. We want them to connect to the theaters. And we want them to connect to the museums.

This is the network. We have a passive infrastructure that's 33% municipal shares and 20% municipal Euros. The wholesale operators sell capacity at 100% market terms. And the service providers are also market. The problem is that in the Netherlands, none of the ISPs are independent any more.

From a business perspective, the passive layer has a high CapEx but a low OpEx. The active layer has an average CapEx and a low OpEx. What do you get? One size fits all. 99% availability. I now myself have a 30 Mbps connection for which I pay 50 Euros. There are four Internet connections. One is for the Internet, and the other three are for whatever you want. Everything ends up in a utility cabinet in the home.

What are you going to do with it? Having ubiquitous broadband and this grid will also be good for wireless connectivity. It'll be green as well. Why do we do it? Economic growth. This network is going to bring in more economic profit than it's going to cost you.

In France, they had 18th century wifi – semaphore. 140 miles, 15 stations, 36 characters in 32 minutes, all records broken, a resounding success. There was this guy who said, can I have a portable one? That was Napoleon. He could. In 1845, someone said we should invest in a copper network. And that was that.

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