Fibre to the home: progress continues

Bern, 26.08.2010 - At its sixth Round Table, the players in the market discussed the work being done in Switzerland on extending optical fibre networks. The technical specifications are now available; it will soon be possible to gather initial experience of connecting customers via a common platform. Thanks to the Round Table and the working groups which have been set up, coordinated deployment of fibre networks in Switzerland is continuing and gathering pace.

The participants at the Round Table discussed questions relating to competition law, such as exclusivity for Layer-1 expansion. This included the aspect of the available finance for the electricity suppliers' optical fibre infrastructure. The Round Table's concern is that the issues of competition and cross-subsidisation should not be considered in isolation but in the light of a fibre-optic expansion that promotes infrastructure competition in Switzerland.

Other points of discussion related to issues of network access for service providers and the opportunities for cooperation between network operators. The participants were informed of the progress of a pilot project by several urban industrial companies for a common platform for order processing and customer migration. This will provide a basis for nationwide FTTH competition which is open to all providers. The project is expected to be implemented from the first quarter of 2011. At the last Round Table on 5 February 2010 the utility companies of Basel (IWB), Bern (ewb), Geneva (SIG), St. Gallen (sgsw) and Zurich (ewz) had agreed to develop the appropriate platform.

The specifications for laying fibre within dwellings and on into apartments were further refined. This means that multiple network operators can use the same installations within the same building. Concrete experience is now being acquired using these specifications. For cabling within buildings it is also important for the Swiss Landlords Association (Schweizerische Hauseigentümerverband HEV) and Swisscom to agree on a standard contract. This is based on the preparatory work performed by a working group set up by the Round Table. The standard contract is intended to deal with the legal and financial aspects of FTTH installations in residential properties between building owners and the network operator. The next Round Table will take place at the beginning of 2011 and will be dedicated to product configuration, regulatory issues and FTTH outside metropolitan areas.  

Fibre to the Home (FTTH)
Fibre to the Home (FTTH) describes a telecommunications network which extends via fibre-optic cable into every business, multiple dwelling or family home. Optical fibre is a well-proven transmission medium for high data rates and will be necessary in the next few years as access networks evolve, because the old copper cables will no longer be adequate to meet the growing demand for high bandwidths for internet applications, especially high-definition television. 
In autumn 2008, ComCom decided to conduct discussions with market players about this form of development; in this way it wishes to prevent the creation of monopolies which make access more difficult for other telecommunications providers and obstruct competition At the same time, network construction must take place as efficiently as possible, to allow economically appropriate investment.

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