Last night I had dinner with James Seng whose blog I follow for his insights into telecom and Internet issues globally, across Asia and particularly in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. (By the way, he's got good coverage of CommunicAsia 2006). It was a wide ranging discussion - great fun.
While talking about the cost of fiber to the home, I mentioned the oldest community fiber project I am aware of: Måttgränd, Ulmea, Sweden.
This project was completed in the winter of 1999-2000 in a community of 62 single family homes in Northern Sweden. They buried PVC conduits and provided each house with multi-mode fiber and single-mode fiber and coax and 4-pair copper cabling! Then individual homes could pick their electronics (at different price points). Here are the options, as of March 2000:
We had three levels to choose from:
- Prepare the connection, but not connect to the network. I think the only one still at this level is a person who hasn't built a house here yet - there are only big trees on his yard. The cost is approximately US$ 1100, without Cable-TV.
- Connect with 10 Mbps to the network. This was chosen by about 35 houses. The cost is approximately US$ 1650 including access to the standard Cable-TV channels.
- Connect with full 100 Mbps to the network. This was about $300 more expensive than the 10 Mbps-alternative. About $2000 per house was the total cost at this level including Cable-TV.
Access to the Cable-TV network was about US$ 200.
The monthly fee is about $10 per house for the running costs of the permanent connection.
I talked about this project extensively in 2001-2003, but I hadn't been back to their web site for nearly three years. Their URL has changed and the website has been updated with new information on the evolution of their system, including their 1 Gbps upgrade and their neighbors in Grädden joining the system.
The costs listed above were in 1999! Today, the cost of digging a trench has undoubtedly gone up a little bit due to inflation, but the cost of everything else - the fiber and particularly the electronics - has dropped significantly.
Who says FTTH has to be expensive?
We should be lobbying for open access to rights-of-way rather than accepting a monopoly/duopoly and arguing about net neutrality.