EU compares passive infrastructure costs across Europe
Passive Infrastructure Access (PIA) has been seen as the answer to getting FTTH deployed cheaply across the UK, and after several iterations a pricing structure that some say is still too high is what we have in the UK. The biggest complaint is that PIA cannot be used for the middle mile, only for the final mile connecting premises to the providers aggregation point.
Into the ring now steps the EU with a lengthy report compiled by Analysys Mason, that looks at the costs of PIA across Europe, and remember PIA is not just about access to incumbents infrastructure, the EU vision is that all utilities operators should take part and offer shared access to their infrastructure to help reduce the cost of fibre roll-out.
ISPreview spotted the report and has highlighted five EU proposals that aim to reduce the cost of full fibre connections across Europe. With the EU Digital Agenda aim of 50% of homes in each EU country actually buying a 100 Mbps service in 2020 and everyone else having access to a 30 Mbps service then reducing the hundreds of billions of Euro this would cost is important.
EU Proposals to Reduce Broadband Costs and Admin Burdens
- A centralised atlas of passive infrastructure
- Mandated access to passive infrastructure
- A one stop shop for rights of way and administrative procedures
- A database in which all planned civil works must be published
- An obligation to equip all new buildings with high-speed (100 Mbps) Internet access, as well as mandated open access to the terminating segment.
The report highlights some interesting costs, suggesting that just surveying 100% of the duct infrastructure owned by Openreach/BT would cost €495 million, if the survey was limited to the exchange to cabinet section this would drop to €33 million. Why such a high figure? Because there are 145,000 manholes between the exchanges and cabinets, but 4.2 million footway boxes between cabinets and the around 26 million homes in the UK.
The big advantage gained from a survey would be that at the planning stage any altnet would be able to assess viability of different routes, rather than the current hit and miss approach where even Openreach are not fully aware of all the capacity limits/blockages in their duct network. We are sure that many readers are thinking how can it cost over €100 to check inside a manhole, the report highlights the sort of issues such as traffic-sensitive areas, special event restrictions, sewage, deep manholes, residual gas, accuracy of infrastructure drawings, hazardous objects on top of chambers, overgrown vegetation, weather, high cable density, chambers located in dense pedestrian areas and the old problem of inspecting poles.
The issue of making sure all new buildings are fibre ready, follows the European model of concentrating on apartment blocks (MDUs), and whether the requirements should also cover retro-fitting fibre when carrying out extensive re-modeling. There are a few nice snippets on fibre in South Korea, a scheme in place since 1999 where new builds of more than 20 flats had to deploy high quality wiring vertically (vertical refers to between the floors, horizontal would include individual flats), and so far 6,500 buildings have been built under the scheme (3.3 million homes) offering speeds from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Helping to create a fibre take-up figure of 20.4% of total households.
For those wondering what it costs to install this sort of setup, estimates from France, Spain and the UK are providing, with the main core wiring costing €2,500, and €125 per flat. In France the cost per flat was higher at €300 each. As a guide to the lowest cost, similar wiring in India where labour rates are very low is around €55 per apartment.