Friday, March 31, 2006

The Essent(ial) info

Over in the Netherlands, Vincent Dekker at Trouw remains ever-occupied, this time turning his sights to the Essent 100Mbps service I wrote about here. It seems they are pushing fiber about 250m on average from localized hubs to street cabinets serving only around 15 subs each, which brings fiber to within only about 50m of the home. While this is deeper fiber reach than in KPN's own FTTC deployment (which brings fiber to within 200 - 300m of the average home) to 28,000 street cabinets, Essent has 117k cabinets in all (apparently the cable companies collectively have 400k street cabinets). The company estimates that the fiber connection from hubs to street cabinets will cost EUR400 per home, which Vincent says equates to EUR2.4bn if all Dutch MSOs go down the same route. That's pretty steep, and the cost per home reportedly goes up by another EUR500 per home if they end up digging the last 50m to individual homes.

UPDATE: A Diamond Cluster mega-uber value reader points out that, as Essent is a 100% subsidiary of a utility company owned jointly by the Dutch provinces of Brabant, Limburg, Friesland and a number of their constituent cities, this particular FTTC project is effectively state-financed. This is an interesting precedent should legal challenges arise to municipal utility fiber projects elsewhere, particularly in Germany.

UPDATE 2: Another Platinum Club mega-uber value reader observes that NTL is in a good position to do the same, except over its own copper (readers outside the UK may not be aware that cable networks here were built with a copper pair bundled in with the coax, a so-called "Siamese" cable). Check out this interesting industry-facing presentation from NTL in which technology options are discussed (slides 30 - 37), and note the statistic that 95% of NTL's copper has a loop length of less than 1km, versus only 5% for BT.

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