Vodafone Germany to create 13.7m Gigabit connections
While we concentrate on the UK broadband scene, keeping a eye on what the rest of the world is doing is important and it is interesting seeing the wide variation in how a €2 billion investment through to 2021 from Vodafone Germany is being reported, in short if you read some headlines you could be tricked into thinking that the investment is delivering 13.7 million premises of full fibre with Gigabit connection speeds. Some of this is down to the marketing use of 'fibre optic' showing its not a uniquely UK disease.
The reality is different and actually not unlike the timeline that Virgin Media is operating in the UK, in fact the Project Lightning UK project might mean more full fibre is delivered.
The Vodafone investment has three strands....
- While 21% of the Vodafone cable network is offering up to 500 Mbps speeds via DOCSIS 3.1 currently the GigaKabel initiative will see the complete network upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1 and this means 12.6 million households will have access to Gigabit cable broadband.
- Provision full fibre broadband to 100,000 businesses in 2,000 business parks. This is an ambition though as for the roll-out to occur to any particular park it will be demand led with 40% of businesses signing up for the roll-out to take place to a park.
- GigaGemeinde which is aiming to help provision full fibre broadband for some 1 million rural households, though in some places two million people is talked about. Our understanding is that this is actually a roll-out by Vodafone of core network, so not unlike TalkTalk and Sky deciding to extend their core networks to more locations across the UK. The actual fibre to the premises will be carried out by local authorities using government funding with the local authority owning the network.
Virgin Media in the UK has not pulled out all the stops to deliver DOCSIS 3.1 yet, but its coming soon with plenty of upgrades quietly underway getting the network ready, since if you switch from selling 50 to 300 Mbps services to selling 100 to 500 Mbps or faster services you need to upgrade both local infrastructure and also ensure the core can deliver improved speeds too.
Looking at Project Lightning which is set to expand the cable operators footprint by four million premises with around half using full fibre it actually looks more ambitous but as this involves rolling out to new areas it is not always plain sailing, with issues around road works, cabinet locations and delays i.e. the usual issues for any large building project.
The demand led targeting of 2,000 business parks is pretty much how Gigaclear worked in its commercial roll-outs in rural areas and very similar to how CityFibre have worked, in that getting enough expression of interests or contracts signed means they will come to an area.
The race to Gigabit is still a case of who wants to boast about the size of things, since if you are talking day to day web activity a 50 Mbps connection and a 300 Mbps connection where both are working well will not feel very different at all in terms of web page loading. Where 1000 Mbps comes into its own is for those buying digital content e.g. with some console games now hitting 100GB in size you can download that in 14 minutes - though its unlikely the Playstation and Xbox stores will serve the file that quick, Steam with its massively parallel download system (i.e. sources file from many locations) should hit maximum speeds for the PC gamers.