Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My country beats your city

How much of this is political grandstanding and one-upmanship, I couldn't say, but a Platinum Club mega-uber value reader alerts me to more pro-fiber rhetoric coming out of France, this time from Mr. Chirac himself, coming one day after the Paris mayor fired his salvo. It is also unclear whether Mr. Chirac is referring to a single, open national fiber network, or something more nebulous.

Cynics might argue that France is hurting from the Olympics decision (even if it might not have been a straightforward affair), and that politicians are trying to assuage a general sense of social malaise using blue-sky diversionary tactics. A more charitable (and I believe reasonable) view would be that politicians increasingly grasp the long-term social and economic (and therefore political) impacts of universal access to true broadband (over to you, my American brethren - thanks for the heads-up Sascha).

It's fascinating to contemplate a time in the future when a number of European cities/regions/countries with open fiber networks (let's say Stokab, Amsterdam, Paris, et al) federated by means of all the long-haul fiber in the ground here.

As a long-term resident of the UK (and one who is, unusually, not averse to the French), the other impression I get from this and the developments in the Netherlands is that the UK generally has lulled itself into a dangerous sense of self-satisfaction with the "turnaround" in the broadband market. As I've said in the past, I suspect that if the UK tabloid press ever properly presented the story of how the French "surrender monkeys" are already running circles around consumers in the UK, we'd have a much different political situation on our hands, particularly in the context of the UK's apparent decline in certain aspects of competitiveness (see page 6). Given past public commitments to this issue, how long can this continue?

UPDATE: A faithful mega-value reader alerts me to video of the Chirac speech, as well as to some interesting lists of French broadband projects taking place at the community/municipal, departement, and regional levels.

No comments: