I see in the Swedish Newspaper SvD an article where the minister of IT, Kaplan, states the new directive regarding access to ducts will be revolutionary for broadband deployment. Sure, it might be better than the situation today, but unfortunately not give the boost that he is talking about.
What is needed for the society is high quality Internet Access. Nothing more, nothing less. For an internet service provider to be able to provide that, it either need good radio access, or good transmission. For good radio access, good transmission is required to the base station. So regardless of whether radio or cable is used for the last few feet, good transmission over fibre is needed.
Question is then how to implement this transmission over fiber. Well, first of all the fibre is required, and the fibre is in turn deployed in a duct that is in the ground. Ground-Duct-Fibre-Transmission-Internet. Five different things.
We have taken the decision that regarding investments and deployment, market economy forces should steer, control innovation and investment. Because of this, it is better the more competition we can get. And ultimately we based on this should have competition regarding every of these five things.
But each piece of land (what I call ground above) is by definition owned by one party. So we can only get competition in four of the five things (given we have decided where to provide Internet). This new directive that Minister Kaplan talks about ensures a. that the Ducts can be deployed and b. that the Ducts should be shared.
That is good, but far from enough. It is in fact counter productive. And the 90% cost savings he is talking about is the difference between digging down your own ducts and fibre compared with providing your fibre in existing ducts.
For me the directive is a failure.
The real savings we get if we share all passive infrastructure. Also the fibre. Specifically savings for the society. Remember that we do have requirements to share passive infrastructure for copper based wire. And that EU in general say that regulation should be technology neutral. So why is not fibre to be shared? Why is not the regulation applied in a technology neutral way? Of course because fibre owners do not want the fibre to be shared. They do not want a low barrier to entry. They first wanted everyone to be forced to provide fibre and ducts, but after negotiations they gave up on ducts, as long as the fibre do not have to be shared.
What is important is that one always separate the passive infrastructure from the active. Including if you provide both layers yourself. As the passive and active infrastructure have different payback time. Active infrastructure must be replaced at least as bandwidth requirements increase…double every 18 months, and too many have too long payback time. They keep old equipment, that have a lack of features.
Price pressure (both regarding hardware, robustness, resilience and staff) make it easy to provide for the end user noticeable differentiated services. Because of this noticeable difference, and price pressure, competition and innovation is required.
Passive infrastructure on the other hand have a lifespan of tens of years. Depreciation time for fibre can be 20 years or more. And that is one of the ways to calculate the real cost there is for fibre.
Passive infrastructure must be shared!
That said, of course, if someone want to deploy their own fibre, have their own ducts, and what not, that should not be prohibited. And here I admit the directive helps, at the same time as it increases the risk fibre is not shared.
The low barrier of entry should be regarding the ability to provision your own active infrastructure!