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Cable Europe: Fibre not the only way

The European broadband cable industry is best placed to satisfy future bandwidth demands, according to Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman, Cable Europe. Speaking at the Huawei DOCSIS 3.1 Forum in Cologne, Kurth noted that at a political level, much of the discussion was about fibre networks, but he suggested it was not the only way to bring Gigabit broadband quality to consumers in Europe. “I often hear ‘fibre, fibre, fibre,’ but I don’t hear ‘DOCSIS 3.1’. Perhaps this name is not very appealing,” he said, noting that CableLabs executives talk about ‘the Gigasphere’.

He said that there was a need to bring DOCSIS 3.1 more to the attention of the public, politicians and regulators and others as a better way to bring broadband in a quick and easy way to bring broadband to many Europeans than to roll out fibre to the home everywhere. “There are some countries in Europe that are a little bit ahead with FTTH, but in Germany, the biggest market in Europe only 1.4 per cent of homes have FTTH. People expect to have high broadband service in 70 to 80 per cent of homes.”

According to Kurth, the main argument is: “Take advantage of the existing infrastructure’ that is already in the ground with a sophisticated technology like DOCSIS 3.1. That’s a quicker time to market. We’re not only talking about the best technology in the world, we’re also talking about how we can do that with CAPEX that is available for members of Cable Europe and the companies who are selling. They don’t have unlimited amounts of money to spend and they need to spend their money very wisely following the customer demand.”

He said it was important for members of Cable Europe to work with the vendor community, with a “unique opportunity” right now. “It’s a whole new wave of investment coming up,” he declared, adding that there were timely offers that everyone could think about saving money by replacement. Everybody needs to have a replacement strategy for the future.”

He admitted that there were challenges in undertaking such upgrades. “Networks in Germany have not been built to be broadband networks. They have been built to distribute TV signals to many people; one to many. It was already a challenge to make them bidirectional; it was a challenge to make them broadband fit and it will be the next challenge to bring them to Gigabit speeds. We have to be honest about that. There needs to be a lot of changes in the network backbone to bring the functionalities closer to the customer.” According to Kurth, this was a good sign. “We have now the choice of how to do it; how to be fit for the next 10 years at least in broadband upgrades.”

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