New Report Says Europe Needs Multiple Technologies To Achieve A Gigabit Society

The European Commission's vision of a "Gigabit Society" by 2025 will require investors in broadband networks to deploy a range of technologies when connecting homes and businesses to ultra-fast broadband, including G.Fast, fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP), DOCSIS and 5G.

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That is the conclusion of an independent report by the media and telecoms consultancy, Communications Chambers, commissioned by Liberty Global, the world's largest international TV and broadband company. The report looks at the fastest and most cost-effective ways of reaching the European Commission's goals for access to high-speed broadband by 2025. The Commission has set targets of one Gbps for socio-economic drivers, such as schools, hospitals and large businesses, and a minimum speed of 100 Mbps for all households, which would also be upgradeable to deliver speeds of one gigabit and faster - referred to in the Communications Chambers report as 'Gigabit speeds'.

The report argues that a range of technologies currently considered "very high capacity" (VHC) by the Commission - such as G.Fast close to the end user, fibre-to-the-building or premise, DOCSIS and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) - are all capable of meeting the 2025 targets. The report adds that in the case of VHC networks based on DOCSIS, Gigabit speeds could be achieved as early as the end of 2017, eight years ahead of schedule and at a lower cost than FTTP.

The report applauds policy-makers who are being technology-neutral, and warns that an over-prescriptive policy of focussing solely on FTTP risks jeopardising investment. It says: "The wrong intervention could be wasteful, or even damaging. For example, support for an expensive and slow-to-deploy technology could drive up prices and paralyse investment in other technologies which might have delivered improved performance more quickly."

It cites the example of Australia, which found that its broadband became worse after a government push on fibre-to-the-home. Similarly, it says: "Korea and Japan's substantial government interventions to support FTTP have also been disappointing. Both countries have performed relatively poorly in their use of socially or economically-valuable internet applications, such as e-government and e-health, despite their superior (and expensive) infrastructure."

The report is being launched alongside a new initiative by Liberty Global, called GIGAWorld, which outlines Liberty Global's plans to bring Gigabit internet speeds to the 12 European countries in which it operates. Around 50 million homes in Europe have access to Liberty Global's fibre-based "GIGAReady" networks. Liberty Global expects that millions more will be connected over the coming years.

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