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Posted by Stephen Hardy

Inspired by his attendance at this week's FTTH Council Europe conference in Copenhagen, Ovum Senior Analyst Charlie Davies has issued a few thoughts on the catalysts necessary for FTTH to grow more rapidly on The Continent.

Noting that a busy exhibition floor highlighted the growing importance placed on next-generation access (NGA) infrastructures, Davies added that "there was an equal recognition that for fibre to flower, it needs a lot more nurturing: from private investors, governments and regulators alike." However, governments in particular will have a primary role to play, he said. For example:

    "The pragmatic approach of Danish incumbent TDC – rolling out fibre as and when the market requires it and when there is a clear business case to do so – would seem sensible to many commercial companies. But at a time when governments and business leaders posit the fundamental importance of a robust NGA infrastructure to the economy/recovery/future of their respective countries, this approach leaves a considerable chasm. This is making the prospect of 'patchwork quilts' of NGA access unfolding out over Europe a distinct possibility with top down (large telcos/cablecos/private-funding) meeting bottom up (utility/community/public & private funding.

    "Key to the 'bottom up' is a more active role by regional and local authorities who have a much more vested interest in their region’s overall economic and social progress. So rather than being purely operator driven broadband rollout, with an eye on NGA access and more ubiquitous coverage comes under the wing of the region, working in partnership with private companies. This approach has been key to rollout of fibre in Sweden and is being replicated elsewhere in Europe on a larger scale. A number of regions including South-West France (Pyrenees-Atlantiques) and Southern Spain (Catalonia) are embarking down this road."

Davies notes that regulators can either help or hurt this process -- particularly as they attempt to encourage private investment. "We expect the next 6 months to be crucial as regulators at both an EU and a national level get to grips with a complex, changing, but at least vibrant landscape," he concluded.

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The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave, which makes him responsible for the editorial aspects of the Lightwave franchise. A technology journalist since 1982, he once had his job duties described as "gets paid to tick off advertisers ".

Meghan Fuller is senior editor of Lightwave. She has degrees from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and the University of Delaware and is a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation.