Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Almere: a broadband living lab

I had written about Almere and glass fibre already. But now the big news in my hometown is offcial: Almere (skyline of thecity on the photograph) will be the first big city with fibre to every home. On October 3, 2007 the telecom incumbent KPN and the cable construction company Reggefiber. KPN will offer the services on the fibre net and Reggefiber will lay the fibre cables. By 2010 all the households and companies will have a fibre connection at their disposal.

Almere is a 30 years old city, a new town, with 180.000 inhabitants and 70.000 households and it is still growing at great speed. The fibre will be a standard facility in all the new homes that will be built in Almere and in all the exiting districts starting this autumn with the Almere Harbour area. After that district by district will be canvassed. The inhabitants will get tv, radio, internet and telephony and get new facilities like video communication with care institutions.

This fibre project has been initiated and executed by the Almere Fiber Consortium, which consists of the municipality, three housing corporations, Reggefiber and a local entrepreneur D. Zantinge. The crucial question in this type of projects is the financing. Municipalities are allowed to invest under very strict rules; for example the municipality of Amsterdam has invested in its fibre project and is now under scrutiny of the European Commission. But the fray for the Almere fibre project will be born by Reggefiber.

The city of Almere wants to be the first digital city in the Netherlands. The objective of the project is promote innovative developments which will strengthen the economy, education, care, living and culture. Having a fibre infrastructure will make the city more attractive for companies in many ways. Employees can work from home. But also network companies can have a direct backbone connection from the Almere Interchange. This was already reason enough for the academic computing centre Sara to come to Almere. Almere ’s fibre network will be an open network. Any supplier of internet services can deliver its services in a level playing field to consumers and companies. In this way Almere will become a living lab in which internet and communication services can be developed and trialled.

The municipality Almere has already a super fast fibre network in use since the summer of 2006; this connects all municipal buildings, schools and social institutions. Also the industrial areas have been connected to the network. Besides these connections a pilot has been executed linking 1700 households and 500 companies to the network. With the experience of these smaller projects, Almere can start its roll-out of the entire network.

I have not seen more details on the roll-out yet. So I do not know when our office will be connected to the network. But to tell you the truth, I can not wait. The speed will always be more than the present UPC speed of 8Mbps; despite the fact that UPC has shown a speed of 100Mbps on the cable, it has not changed its offer of speeds and tariffs. Perhaps for the time being, I still should change to Alice or Telfort (but I do not like their fair use clause) for an ADSL 20Mbps line at 30 euro, including fixed line telephone.

Blog Posting Number: 897

Tags: broadband

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