I am happy to report that even after loosing Martin Geddes - one of its founders - to JP Rangaswami at BT Design, the folks at Telco 2.0 are still putting out the best analysis of the need to change the global infrastructure and operating models of the global phone companies.
Here are some highlights from their most recent report
Fibre Down Under: It’s All Part of the Master Plan…
Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore’s ambitious plans for publicly owned FTTH show that if you want Real Broadband (speeds heading for at least 100Mbit/s, a high degree of symmetry, and OPEX low enough to support a healthy ISP market), only Pakistan-style anarchy or state-run technocracy will cut it. That’s also the conclusion we reached in our Online Video market study; and data from Akamai bears it out.
[Cook’s Edge: serious readers should click on the above link and go straight to teleco’s blog to get the advantage of their links charts illustrations etc. Meanwhile a few more snips follow.]
Australia’s central government has decided that none of the tenders for its planned National Broadband Network are any good, after Telstra effectively refused to take part, and that instead the government will build a publicly-owned fibre-to-the-home network, providing dark fibre to anyone who wants it. Five years after deployment, the company will be reviewed with an eye to deciding whether it should be privatised, part-privatised, or left in peace.
New Zealand, meanwhile, is putting NZ$1.5bn of government funds into a national dark fibre build that will be owned by “local fibre companies”, dark-fibre deployers owned jointly by local government, commercial partners, and perhaps by telcos, but with the restriction that no operator using the network can own a majority of any LFC.
In Singapore, meanwhile. where the government wants to build 1Gbit/s service to every address, contracts have been issued for both the “NetCo” (which will actually lay the dark fibre and also provide regulated wholesale access to the duct network) and the “OpCo”, a telcolike entity that will provide wholesale service over it to competing telcos and ISPs.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that what works, in this case, is actually a big technocratic plan. You might think that Australia will always be a special case - only five per cent of Telstra local exchanges were unbundled, after all, so for most of them the only option is either Telstra or the state - but in fact it’s not so.
Further, realising the positive externalities of fibre to their fullest extent involves many other actors; the Australian NBN plan provides that the network company will provide service to the health and education sectors, and perhaps they may be asked to chip in. The trans-sector concept is crucial - for example, the energy sector has both needs for connectivity for things like demand response, and also extensive duct, pole, and right-of-way networks. The question may be whether this degree of coordination is achievable without some layer of government being involved.
It is almost painfully evident that the only model that has yet to deliver much fibre is the one with a regulated private incumbent and competing DSL operators; anarchy and technocracy both deliver, market-led regulationism doesn’t. And it is a real issue whether the many fancy options that have been discussed are anything more than outbursts of frustration at this fact.
So the report that the FCC may demand that telcos share any fibre built with government money should fill us with inspiration, not fear.