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Hartwig Tauber, FTTH Council Europe
We recently spoke with Hartwig Tauber, Director General of FTTH Council Europe, who shared with us the insights on his presentation topic ahead of the event, focussing on customer feedback on FTTH and his views on future fibre deployments.
1. Could you tell us about the FTTH Council Europe’s key projects for 2015?
HT: “With the new European Commission in place, we start a “Call for Action” campaign to ensure that policy makers understand that Europe needs to act now to have FTTH in place in time. Otherwise there is a strong risk that the European Union will suffer economically on lagging behind on broadband connectivity in global competition. Special topics of the campaign will be the discussion of the senseless “technology neutrality” approach, pointing to new business models in particular for FTTH in rural areas, making policy makers understand that the state can act as anchor client and the topic of consumer transparency to make sure that end users really get the broadband speeds that marketing promises.”
2. At the conference, you will be addressing the topic of customer experience with FTTH – could you please give us a little bit of insight into what exactly you will be focusing on in this presentation?
HT: “Many people still think that FTTH is just faster internet. But when talking to end users who already enjoy superfast broadband speeds on fibre, we realised that they start to use their online connection in a very improved way. This includes increased days of teleworking, use of creative applications for video, pictures and audio, different ways of online communication including video chats and much more. Therefore we decided to check if those individual stories are also reflected in a broader scale. The result is a study which compares the consumer experience of FTTH and old fashioned DSL/wireless customers. We were impressed by the results. While I will present details at your conference, I can already say: FTTH customers are happy customers!”
3. What do you see as the greatest hurdles in deploying fibre at this point in time, and how does the FTTH Council Europe help overcome these hurdles?
HT: “One of the biggest challenges in Europe is the lack of understanding of decision makers and politicians. In many countries they still believe that the “market” will ensure a full scale FTTH roll out. At the same time they forget that the market players are all private companies that want to make their shareholders happy. Therefore they don’t go for long term future proof solutions but simply want to earn maximum profit with minimum investment. Giving public money to them – in particular for rural areas – is nonsense. The time where a state owned monopolist is implementing the broadband plans of a government are over. We in the FTTH Council Europe have a special focus in our “Call for Action” campaign to make this situation clear to decision makers. And to point out alternative solutions e.g. for rural areas where separated entities for infrastructure, network operation and service offering could open the doors for investors.”
4. What is your long-term vision for fibre deployment and the future use of fibre, over the next 10 years?
HT: “We believe that we are still at the beginning of a new industrial revolution: the age of online communication. With a broader availability of FTTH and therefore overcoming all the boring bandwidth bottlenecks, economy and society will face another wave of new services and application that will improve the quality of our lives. While cars will drive autonomous in 10 years, people will work and enjoy entertainment from wherever they want. The concept of “working place” and “household” that was introduced only 200 years ago with the industrial revolution will disappear again in many parts of our society.”
5. What are you most looking forward to at the conference in April 2015?
HT: “I am looking forward to interesting debates with those people who still stick in the past and believe that expensive copper upgrade or wireless solutions can further delay FTTH roll out. I call them the “horse lobby” based on a famous quote of Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” We know that faster horses will not work – we need to go for FTTH!”
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We look forward to seeing you in Berlin in April 2015!