18 April 2024 | Blogs

Summing up FTTH Berlin: 3 key takeaways

I am still energized by the buzzing and well-attended FTTH Conference in Berlin. There were a lot of exciting topics and discussions among the panels and workshops. There is still a lot to digest, but here are some reflections.

1.    Good event attention but slow industry action on sustainability

On the sustainability front, there was good attendance at various workshops and a general agreement and nodding of heads that our industry needs to pay more attention to the urgent issue of climate impact. One of the workshops focused on moving from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) box-checking to concrete actions to reach net zero. How can communications service providers (CSPs) include and inform subscribers in making climate-friendly choices that ultimately impact our planet and society? One conclusion from the workshop is that there is a general willingness to pay if subscriptions were net zero. How can this willingness be turned into a business reality that trickles down to the end consumers? This is a topic we must see more of in the future.

Providing guidelines to the overall industry was also discussed. The FTTH Council released a report, “FTTH Council Carbon Footprint Project: A Reporting Model for the Entire Sector,” which outlines how to meet the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). From 2027, we will need to provide information on our environmental impact, such as our carbon footprint, raw material sourcing, waste management, and energy consumption. The FTTH’s carbon project is a step in the right direction to provide a standardized methodology for reporting requirements.

One of my colleagues is Maarten Egmond, Chief Technology Officer at Genexis and chair of the In-Home Broadband Excellence Committee for the FTTH Council Europe. He commented, “There is still not enough attention on sustainability, and the industry is moving too slowly by only considering risk management and cost reduction synergies. They are missing the bigger business opportunities that are out there.” I fully agree with this sentiment!

2.    More emphasis on new services, monetizing networks, and user experience

According to the FTTH Market Panorama Update 2024, the total number of homes passed with fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-building in the EU39 reached 244 million in September 2023. The uptake rate is now 49.6%, an increase from the previous year. Both of these facts point to exciting opportunities on several fronts. Firstly, there is still a need to expand fiber networks and increase adoption. Second, among the millions of households, there is also an opportunity to focus on quality and services for existing subscribers, and more can be done here.

Deploying new or value-added services to increase the average revenue per user is challenging for CSPs and has been discussed for some time. These services, such as video streaming, require managing broadband hardware such as residential gateways, routers, and software from multiple vendors. As a result, time to market is slow, and scalability is limited. A solution to this challenge is a unified software approach, which decouples hardware from software. It is already available with Genexis’ IOWRT Software Development Kit (SDK) 7.3 and is used by a major UK CSP. IOWRT SDK 7.3 was awarded the 2024 FTTH Innovation Award in the Active Infrastructure – Home Network category. The solution offers efficient software management, consistent consumer experience, future proofs the network and is ready for Wi-Fi 7. In general, there was more focus on customer satisfaction and quality of experience in parallel with monetizing networks.

3.    Learn from the Swedish open access networks

Another frequent topic was open access networks (OAN). Open access in fiber networks means wholesale access on equal terms. OAN provides significant benefits for consumers, internet service providers, and infrastructure owners, including rapid deployment, competition, innovation, cost efficiency, and better coverage. Sweden’s model is often considered a successful example of OAN, and Sweden invested heavily in its broadband infrastructure earlier than most European countries. Municipalities play a crucial role in sharing knowledge and often own the fiber.

The speakers shared multiple examples of OAN, indicating its increasing relevance and how business models are tailored versus each country’s market requirements. As fiber coverage expands in Europe, we will likely see infrastructure consolidation. Optical Network Terminal (ONT) installation must be done with this in mind. By installing interoperable ONTs, the customer premise equipment (CPE) investment is secured even when consolidation brings more Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) to the network. TrueTalkTM, our autosensing software, is one of the two FTTH Innovation Awards Genexis received at the event. Recognized for its ability to ensure seamless OLT-ONT interoperability free from vendor lock-in, TrueTalk is enabled in all Genexis FiberTwist and FiberBox ONTs.

Overall, let’s see more concrete actions to reduce our industry’s climate footprint, improve customer experience, and follow how OAN develops.

Author: Kajsa Arvidsson