One (high-speed) network to unite us all
High speed internet for the entire country, that’s the goal. Five to eight billion kroner, that’s the price tag, and the country’s mayors and council leaders are calling on the government to make it happen.
Torben Rune, head of Netplan, a research firm that advises businesses and governments on IT investments, said that the task can be completed in four years.
“The main limitations are resources; the arms, legs and equipment to do the job,” he told Berlingske newspaper.
Local councils want the national government take the lead in providing fibre-optic cable throughout the country, up to the front doors of homes and businesses, which would make it possible to provide internet, TV and telephone service through a single connection. Current copper cable connections aren’t fast enough to handle the load when multiple services are being used.
Power companies still lagging behind
The country's power companies, with Sydenergi (SE) in the lead, have laid thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cable with the hope of breaking the near monopoly of TDC, the country’s largest telecom. Progress has been slow though: only around 270,000 customers are getting their Internet and TV service from electric companies at this point.
TDC also only uses fibre-optic cables as ‘motorways’, with the last bit of connection to homes and businesses still handled by the current fixed network. Companies with large data demands need fibre-optic connections all the way to the front door.
Last week the government presented its ‘digital roadmap’ for more widespread public-sector use of digital technology, particularly by health and eldercare providers. A pre-condition of the success of those goals is that internet connections can handle the increased traffic created by things like video consultations with doctors and hospitals.
“Telecommunications companies whine about competition, but these are areas where they do not want to compete, so their claims sound hollow,” said Rune.
Show us the money
Rune said there were many ways to finance a nationwide fibre-optic network.
“Sweden looks at it as an infrastructure project like busses or trains and uses taxpayer money so that rural areas are served, whereas Denmark views it as a competitive market without public support. In the US, development is paid for by taxing telecommunications companies.”
The government recently announced plans to spend 28.5 billion kroner on improved rail service, but Rune argued that the money would be better spent pepping up internet connections.
ITEK, a trade group representing IT and telecom companies, was less than thrilled at government interference in the market.
“We agree that digital infrastructure is as important as electricity, gas, water and roads; perhaps even more vital,” Tom Togsverd, an ITEK spokesperson, told Berlingske. “The question lies in how we make it happen. Of course we would like to help, but only if it supports market-driven development.”
Telecoms like Telenor, Telia, Global Connect and Concept have long complained about TDC and its stranglehold on the underground infrastructure. Its competitors would like the government not require that one particular technology – like fibre-optics – be the only choice for full net coverage.