Saturday, December 16, 2006

Working on a city of glass

Glass fibre is still hot topic in The Netherlands. Sometime ago many municipalities such as Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht ordered a study about a glass fibre net, the costs, the financing and the organisation from a lobby group, which promoted the investment by the local authorities for the sake and benefit of Dutch economy. In the meantime things are changing. After that the EC ordered the municipality of Appingendam not to use money from the municipality for the network, things started to change. The municipality of Amsterdam planned also a glass fibre network for the city and its inhabitants. It manipulated the process for companies to quote and eventually became a small participant in the project of connecting 40.000 houses in first instance. Last year the first citizens’ fibre network became reality in Nuenen, close to Eindhoven. In this small suburb, a network was installed, officially with private money, but also supported by grants from local and national government. Now more initiatives are undertaken, claiming private financing.

The latest claim comes from Deventer, a city where the publisher Kluwer started its business. The municipality has announced that it will be the first city on glass by 2009, having connected at that time more than 40.000 households at a price of 55 million euro. The construction costs of the network Y-3network are for the company which offers the fast symmetric connections of 20Mbps; the subscribers will eventually pay 49,50 euro.

The chosen economic model has been christened the Deventer model and is unique in as far as it does not ask the municipality for money to lay the network. A housing organisation and Reggefiber will operate the network and lease capacity to service operators.

The Deventer project is also interesting because of its objective. Amsterdam and the other Dutch cities were advised to start glass fibre network as this would be good for the economy and would put The Netherlands at the top of Europe as a knowledge society. The Deventer project has more a social objective. Besides the triple play application of television, internet and telecom, tele-applications for living, working, education, recreation, social and medical care are focussed upon. Glass fibre will make tele-surveillance possible remote education, but especially social and medical care. By 2010 The Netherlands will have 4 million people older than 65 years. This will mean a lot of loneliness for many citizens as their children is living somewhere else. Camera skyping with seniors will undoubtedly be one of the applications (a mobile skype device with built-in camera and simple interface should be developed for senior citizens for daily contact with their children and grand children as well as with relatives and friends!).

The Deventer network will also be connected to the municipal network of the town hall, schools, social and medical institutes; the network will also be linked to firms.

The decision to roll out the fibre network has been taken after a pilot. Here the basic package of internet, telecom and television were offered, but will be extended with a digital platform for digital television, including HDTV quality and for local initiative from churches, sports organisations and care initiatives.

Tags: glass fibre

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