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Fiber Day 2022 in Linz
Conference about FTTH, smart broadband, open access and more
The FiberDay on September 22, 2022 in Linz is the largest event related to the development of fiber networks in Austria. In addition to current information about the new federal funding program and top-up funding from the federal states, practical experience in the construction and operation of fiber optic networks and the implementation of the wholesale-only business model are central topics of the event. There are more than 25 exhibitors on site, who will present and competently convey the latest developments in the fiber optics industry. Registration and information: www.fiberevents.at
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Interview on fiber-optic expansion in Austria
Interview conducted with DI Dr. Igor Brusic, President of Open Fiber Austria, the 1st Austrian fiber optic association, which was newly founded in April 2021.
connect business: The broadband strategy of the federal government - the BBA 2030 demands that by 2030 a nationwide coverage of Austria with symmetrical gigabit-capable connections is achieved. What has been achieved so far? Is the goal realistic?
Dr. Igor Brusic: In order to achieve this very ambitious goal, the federal government has also sent the second "broadband billion" on the way or would like to create a major incentive with 1.4 billion subsidies to build the necessary fiber optic infrastructure in Austria. Due to the funding intensity of up to 65%, interest is very high and the first 600 million euros made available in the first call for proposals were oversubscribed several times. However, with an estimated total investment for a nationwide FTTH network in Austria of 10-12 billion euros, it is questionable whether the funds made available and the interest of investors will be sufficient to achieve the federal government's goals.
connect business: Funding from the broadband billion in Austria is currently being awarded. What are the challenges from your perspective?
Dr. Igor Brusic: We welcome the government's efforts to promote broadband expansion. It is only important that the funding for the award of the broadband billion is not only given to private investors, but also increasingly to promote the expansion of open fiber optic networks that are owned by the public sector. We are currently seeing very clearly how fragile our economic systems are and how important it is to be independent in the critical infrastructure area. Infrastructure that is not public cannot be controlled, as we can currently see from the development of the electricity and gas markets in Austria and Europe.
connect business: In Austria, in some federal states, the path of fiber optic expansion is being taken by public companies (e.g. nöGIG, BBOÖ, BIK, etc.), which make their infrastructure available to service providers in Open Access. Is that a model for all of Austria? How is the model accepted, do the majority of customers actually have several providers to choose from?
Dr. Igor Brusic: Open fiber optic networks are very well accepted in Austria. Not only that the bandwidths on these networks start where they end with copper-based networks. Going beyond that, the choice for the end customer is very large with 10 to 15 different Internet service providers. The utilization or take rate on open networks is usually over 50%, even if you only started building them 5 years ago. The churn is very low because on the one hand the technical quality of the fiber optic connection is excellent and on the other hand the end customer can switch service providers quickly and easily if they are not satisfied with the service.
Dr. Igor Brusic, President of Open Fiber Austria
“Our goal is, that all consumers have access to the fastest, independent and inexpensive internet right into their living room or office. Genuine open networks guarantee fair competition at provider and service level and are essential for fast communication and, finally, for well-functioning mobile communications. ”
connect business: What are the goals for broadband expansion in Austria?
Dr. Igor Brusic: A declared goal is that all consumers have access to the fastest, independent and inexpensive internet right into their living room or office. Genuine open networks guarantee fair competition at provider and service level and are essential for fast communication and, finally, for well-functioning mobile communications. We need open networks in a future-proof structure from the beginning to the end. And especially in the event of a crisis, a balance between the state and the private sector is necessary.
connect business: In your opinion, why should fiber optic networks remain in public hands?
Dr. Igor Brusic: We can now see from the tense situation on the gas market what happens when critical infrastructure is not in public hands. In the event of a crisis, the broadband sector is also at great risk. We are of the opinion that fiber optic networks are part of the critical infrastructure and as such must remain in the majority of public hands. In Austria, it is like in the energy sector - however, the operation and provision of services should be carried out by private companies in free competition. This is important for our security, for our competitiveness and future viability, as well as for our independence.
connect business: In Austria there is a new fiber optic standard - the OAID. How is this accepted and what experiences have been made with it?
Dr. Igor Brusic: The Open Access ID (OAID for short) is the uniform identification of open fiber optic connections. It is an Austria-wide clear and standardized identification. As an 8-digit combination of numbers and digits, it is easy and safe to communicate and unmistakable. In principle, it works like the Apple ID. As a fixed identifier, it is assigned for the lifetime of the objects and lines - so it never changes; not even if the address of the object were to change. So far, 340,000 OAIDs have been issued via Open Fiber Austria to infrastructure owners who attach them to the home or office where the fiber optic cable leads. The aim is that every household and office in Austria gets an OAID. That was a first milestone since the founding of Open Fiber Austria. It is therefore very well accepted and increasingly in demand.
connect business: Infrastructure investors who invest in companies expanding the network currently play a major role in Germany. 50 billion euros are to be made available for the privately financed expansion. Have financial investors also gained in importance in Austria in recent years?
Dr. Igor Brusic: Financial investors have discovered the asset class of fiber optic networks as a long-term investment opportunity with a small but secure return. The countries that benefit most from this are those that have the greatest potential for fiber optic networks that are still to be built, and these are primarily Germany, Austria, and Great Britain.
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