Will ADTRAN rollout help Europe’s new ‘gigabit society’ initiative?

Network equipment provider ADTRAN announced this week that it has extended its Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives (ECCL) programme across the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. The programme, it says, has already supported economic development in some communities across North America through ultrafast and Gigabit broadband services driven by ADTRAN’s FTTP, G.fast and VDSL vectoring solutions.

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Ultra-fast connectivity will be key to the EC’s vision of a Digital Single Market.(Photo by Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images)

“As service providers in EMEA evolve their broadband access networks to meet demand and gain competitive advantage, they establish superior connectivity with the global digital economy which, in turn, generates enormous value to communities that could otherwise be left behind,” said Ronan Kelly, ADTRAN’s CTO for the EMEA and APAC region. “Our programme is designed to support this process of enablement and to identify the best examples, use cases and real-life stories. Extending the ECCL program to EMEA is the next logical step and we look forward to charting its progress in line with next-generation broadband adoption across the region.”

The move, ADTRAN says, will help support the European Commission’s new Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society Initiative, which seeks to achieve widespread gigabit connectivity needed to drive growth and power the Digital Single Market.

“Communities, network operators and equipment vendors must work together if the European Commission’s vision of Digital Single Market will become a reality,” said Tony Shortall, director at the Telage consulting group and former economic advisor to the European Commission. “Ultrafast broadband connections will be the linchpin of a globally connected, data-driven economy across Europe and the world. ADTRAN has demonstrated its ability to help operators make a positive and long-term impact on their respective communities and I’d expect them to play a larger role as the European market develops.”

What is the European Gigabit Society Initiative?

EC’s European Gigabit Society Initiative aims to roll out 100 Mbps connectivity for all European households; uninterrupted 5G coverage for all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths; and calls for 5G connectivity to be available in at least one major city in each Member State by 2020.

“Gigabit broadband is a huge benefit to society, attracting professionals to live and work in newly developed properties and acting as a catalyst to entrepreneurship,” said Shaun Gibson, CEO at Telcom Networks, a United Kingdom-based broadband operator.

However, some operators have said that the framework is not technology neutral.

“The framework is clearly at odds with the current investment strategies of some of the region’s biggest operators, and could drive those players to re-examine their plans,” wrote analyst Iain Morris. “Accused by some operators of developing a framework that is not really technology neutral, senior EC officials have responded that ‘three or four’ technologies could be used to satisfy requirements, according to [Tony] Shortall. Ideally, however, authorities would like to see efforts channeled into FTTP/B deployments given the supposedly ‘future-proof’ nature of these technologies.”

How ADTRAN may complement EC’s efforts

ADTRAN’s initiative could help highlight the relevance and opportunity of bringing ultrafast services to communities throughout EMEA, especially considering the European Commission’s focus on schools, transport hubs, public services and digitally intensive enterprises, says the company.

Education, healthcare and the residential market are the primary community segments that have adopted the types of services provided by ADTRAN’s ECCL, according to a recent survey of the company’s service provider customers.

The survey also indicated that the primary driver for deploying ultrafast services, including Gigabit, has shifted. In 2014, only 30% of respondents were deploying Gigabit as a driver for economic growth, but in 2016, over 60% of respondents cited economic growth as a key driver for deployments. Additionally, service providers find that once Gigabit is deployed, the market for Wi-Fi, smart home devices and services, and over the top (OTT) managed services become relevant.

Lucy Spencer (@L_M_Spencer)

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