Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The municipality of Brunssum in the South of The Netherlands (see coloured area in black oval) is one of the last of the cable Mohicans. It will offer its cable network for sale. Presently the network has 13.500 connections. Reason for the sale it the high costs of upgrading for the network.

Brunssum is one of the last municipalities in The Netherlands which still possesses and operates its own cable network. In the past fifteen years almost all municipal networks have been sold to regional operators like UPC, Casema and Kabelcom/aHome/Essent. These companies have been able to invest in triple play (television, telecom and internet). The present network of Brunssum badly needs an upgrade, if it wants to compete with these regional cable operators. The local network can not offer digital television. So the municipality will put it on the market.

This has been the trend for the last fifteen years and in this way regional operators are growing by threading municipalities in particular regions. This is the way UPC, Casema and Essent grew into cable operators with millions of users. The real high time was at the end of the nineties when regional cable operators paid 2250 guilders (roughly 1125 euro) or more for every subscriber. Brunssum expects revenues from the sale of the network for 10 million euro; this would be 740 euro per subscriber. The regional cable operator could earn that sum back easily – so was the reasoning – by offering digital TV, telecom facilities, internet and security services. But these days cable operators have to compete with new glass fibre consortia. So UPC is fighting the Citynet consortium in Amsterdam and in Nuenen UPC lost the majority of its subscribers to Ons Net, the private glass fibre consortium.

More than 1 million households in The Netherlands have a television subscription combined with an internet subscription. Source: Vecai

It is interesting to see that many of the fibre glass projects are also initiated by the municipalities. In the past they ran a cable network to avoid forests of antennas. Now they get involved in high speed networks for their own municipal services, education and hospitals; but their involvement is not that of an operator. They take shares in the private companies in order to have a say about the connections to their services and insure that the inhabitants get the best network possible. I guess that once glass fibre networks are common, up and running, that municipalities will sell their shares again to invest in other citizens’ services.

Talking about internet by cable. I have a UPC subscription to Internet, Chello Classic, a package of 8 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. That package is no longer sold; they never informed me by letter or e-mail. But what you get back or as compensation is not told on the webpage. On the webpage they guarantee the same optimal service, but lately they have been fiddling with the speed, as you can see from last month’s speed recordings through Speedtest.


Blog Posting Number: 775

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