Thursday, December 18, 2008

Creating a Competitive Fiber Market

Last week I posted an article about how Swisscom will support competitors in its FTTH deployment. Swisscom will deploy four fibers to each home and reserve one for itself and make the other three available to competitors. It pointed out that the cost of providing four fibers is only slightly higher than providing a single fiber.

This significantly helps Swisscom's business case because it will generate revenue from every FTTH home that it deploys. This will provide it with a return on the investment that it is making on deploying these fibers. Swisscom will also accept investment or trade fiber connections with its competitors that deploy their own fiber networks.

A similar facility sharing approach has been adopted in France and is likely to be adopted broadly in Europe.

Japan is taking another approach. NTT is deploying all of the fiber; however NTT East and West (the two incumbents in Japan) can offer only the fiber connection. The subscriber gets the Internet service from an ISP. NTT operates two of these ISPs itself (OCN and Plala), but has to treat other ISPs on an equal basis. KDI and Softbank are major ISPs that use NTT fibers along with a number of smaller ISPs.

The U.S. FCC has given up on creating a competitive environment with FCC. It traded exclusive use of the fiber for the commitment to deploy fiber services. I think this was a bad bargain. Both Europe and Japan have shown that better approaches are available.

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