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No Sign of UK as Europe Reveals their Top 5 Broadband Projects

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 (8:16 am) - Score 604

Last night in Brussels the European Commission announced the winners of their inaugural European Broadband Award event, which aimed to identify the unions top 5 “high-speed” (30Mbps+) broadband projects. Sadly none of the United Kingdom’s excellent projects made it on to the winners list.

Apparently submissions from some 48 projects from 17 Member States were evaluated by a jury of five “international experts” in the fields of broadband, telecommunications, systems science, economics and management, although rather oddly we’re not told who they were or even given a short-list of all the entries by country.

However one of the criteria for selection was “competition and open access” (here), which could have worked against some otherwise brilliant schemes like B4RN’s community deployment of Gigabit broadband in rural Lancashire, as well as Gigaclear’s similarly rural FTTP network or Hyperoptic’s urban FTTP/B service. None of which are open access networks.

In any case we’re told that the projects covered all types of technologies and sizes – from nation-wide to small community-led projects in rural areas. Not that the winners will get much for their efforts, aside from some extra publicity and a big travel (expenses) bill.

The winners will also be asked to “take part in the events and workshops aimed at the spread of broadband good practices in the regional and rural domains” (i.e. helping the EU to do their job for them).

Winners of the European Broadband Award 2015

* Breitband Nordhessen (Germany, Hessen) represents a best practice in both the organisational set-up and the efficient financing of a passive fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network that provides high quality of service to rural households and SMEs. The project reduced cost by clustering the investment of different districts in Nordhessen in central Germany and by reusing existing passive infrastructure of the municipalities and then by leasing dark fibre to private operators through a concession model.

* The RAIN II project (Lithuania) is the second phase of a national project which aims to bridge the digital gap in Lithuania: while RAIN I provided, with the support of European Structural Funds, broadband internet connection for rural local administration centres, RAIN II is in the process of completing the building of over 5700 km of a fibre backhaul network in close to 1000 rural areas. This project led by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the network is built by a not-for-profit Public Enterprise Plačiajuostis internetas, which is also active on the wholesale broadband market offering dark fibre and data services to private telecom operators.

* The CAI Harderwijk Project (The Netherlands, Gelderland) used a participatory process -pro-actively stimulating demand for high-speed connectivity in the local community. It also developed a detailed map inventorying existing ducts in civil infrastructures and town works planned by local municipalities as well as by energy companies operating in the area. This allowed CAI Harderwijk to build at low-cost yet high-quality network, able to provide a very open fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity in areas insufficiently attractive for telecom operators. Using a structural separation between the infrastructure and the services part, the CAI Harderwijk project also facilitates competition and service innovation on the network which has been recognised by the consumers union in the Netherlands as a best practice example given the wide choice of high speed services offered to end-users.

* Guifi.Net Foundation (Spain, Catalonia) adopted a model of investment that successfully managed to engage volunteers, Internet Services Providers, and public administrations together in new development prospects to the rural economy. All these stakeholders cooperated by pulling resources together to deploy high quality of service through a mix-of FTTH and Radio wave links in remote, very rural and disadvantaged areas in the municipality of VIC, in Catalonia in Spain. Other similar projects that adopted the same model are now spreading across other parts of rural Spain.

* Stokab (Sweden, Stockholm) is a company 100 % owned by the city of Stockholm that has built and provides unlit fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity to 90% of the city households. This so-called “passive network” is used by more than 100 telecom operators and 500 companies in Stockholm. Since the company is self-funded, it does so at no expense for public finances and benefits to end-users include low commercial offers and flexibility of services supporting the city’s competitiveness and innovation capacity. With the basic philosophy – developed as early as the 1990’s – that access to fibre infrastructure is a strategic utility for the city – just like water – Stokab has been a European pioneering model for municipal broadband development providing a neutral network to all operators.

Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Avatar chris conder says:

    Worthy winners, showing that where there is a will there is always a way. What a shame the monopoly telcos try so hard to hang on to old copper technology and won’t go the extra mile for their customers like all these guys are doing.
    Well done to all the projects, long may they prosper.

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