Fibre to the home: second round table

(Last modification 03.12.2008)

Bern, 01.12.2008 - When optical fibre networks are laid to individual dwellings, this should be performed in a coordinated manner. Furthermore, all providers should have equitable standardised access so that consumers have a choice of broadband offers and a diverse range of services. This aim was confirmed by the 11 senior management figures from Swiss companies that are investing in fibre optic networks who participated at the second round table organised by the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) on 1 December 2008. The participants were also agreed that installations inside buildings should be standardised.

For several months now, telecommunications companies, power distribution companies, cable network operators and service providers have been investing in the provision of fibre optic network connections to households ("Fibre to the Home" or "FTTH"). At a round table convened by ComCom last June, the market players put forward their intentions in this respect. At the second round table on 1 December 2008, solutions for co-operation in terms of network construction and the standardisation of network access were discussed.

In this respect, two industrial working groups, lead by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), will draft technical solutions for the connection of households using fibre optics, in order to prevent any duplication.

In the meantime, it also proved possible to move one step forward on the issue of the outline conditions under which service providers should gain "Layer 2" access to fibre optic networks.

The level of network access proved a controversial topic, as did the issue of the number of fibres which should be laid to each house. It is primarily the issue of whether network access should take place at the level of the physical network ("Layer 1" access) or via a transport platform ("Layer 2" access) which is in dispute, though all participants agreed that they should work towards flexible solutions.

In bilateral discussions, industrial working groups and further talks around the round table, solutions should be sought that, on the one hand, promote the provision of FTTH and, on the other, also avoid any duplication. 

Fibre to the Home (FTTH)

"Fibre to the Home (FTTH)" refers to a telecommunications network that is fed into all business premises, and single and multiple occupancy dwellings using glass fibres (fibre optic cables). In most cases up to now, fibre optic cables have not been fed into the houses of private individuals and small companies, but have primarily been used for connections in telecommunications networks, for connecting upstream network elements in the access network (distribution boxes) and for the provision of services to larger companies and business premises. The final external part of the network (the "last mile") and the supply into residential properties has mainly relied on twisted pair copper wires or coaxial cables. FTTH is the final expansion stage of the fibre optic network, i.e. fibre optic cables are laid to private dwellings.  

Network access is possible at two levels: "Layer 1", where the passive infrastructure (in-house wiring, cable ducting, drainage system or transmission media) is utilised, or at "Layer 2", where connections are established and data packets transmitted. 

Fibre optic cables are a long proven transmission medium for high data rates and which in the next few years will be essential for the evolution of access networks because the old copper connections cannot satisfy the growing demand for higher bandwidths for internet applications, and in particular for high-definition television (HDTV).


Address for enquiries

Philipp Metzger, vice-director, OFCOM, +41 32 327 55 99
Peter Bär, Secretary of the commission, ComCom, +41 31 323 52 90


Federal Communications Commission ComCom