This week could be the Week Of Broadband here in Europe, with the Apple+O2 deal on the iPhone in the UK, with ECOC'07, the european Fiber Optics conference & tradeshow in Berlin, Germany, and with Odebit'07, the Broadband conference in Paris, France.
Let's take this opportunity to go back to the fundamentals : why fiber is the only medium of choice when it's about delivering multimedia content instantly - Here is an excerpt of the FTTH Council' s Feb.07 report : "Fiber To The Home, Advantages of Optical Access " :
Common sense suggests that communities with plentiful, reliable bandwidth available will do better than those without. FTTH-powered bandwidth is essential for:
• Hometown businesses competing in a global economy.
• Professionals and others who work at home.
• Quality of life provided by online entertainment, education, culture and e-commerce.
• Special services for the elderly and for shut-ins.
FTTH thus helps define successful communities just as good water, power, climate and transportation have defined them for millennia.
That’s obviously so for greenfield developments – the data, in previous sections of this report, show that fiber-equipped homes and offices sell faster, and command a price premium over real estate developments without fiber. But what about existing communities? Direct comparisons are admittedly difficult because FTTH has not been widely available until recently, but virtually all of the real-world economic studies have borne out the predictions; none has suggested otherwise.
By far the most comprehensive look at broadband’s impact is a 2005 study by William H. Lehr, Carlos A. Osorio, and Sharon E. Gillett at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Marvin A. Sirbu, from Carnegie Mellon University. It was funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce and by the MIT Program on Internet & Telecoms Convergence (http://itc.mit.edu). The study found that broadband enhances economic activity, helping to promote job creation both in terms of the total number of jobs and the number of establishments. Broadband is associated with growth in rents, total employment, number of business establishments, and share of establishments in IT-intensive sectors.
There are also numerous case studies, comparing specific communities before and after public investment in broadband. A few examples:
• One early study, of a municipal fiber network built in 2001 in South Dundas, Ontario, showed substantial benefits. It was prepared for the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry.
• A 2003 study by D. J. Kelley comparing Cedar Falls, Iowa, which launched a municipal broadband network in 1997, against its otherwise similar neighboring community of Waterloo. Cedar Falls bounded ahead of its neighbor.
• More recently, Ford and Koutsky compared per capita retail sales growth in Lake County, Florida, which invested in a municipal broadband network that became operational in 2001, against ten Florida counties selected as controls based on their similar retail sales levels prior to Lake County’s broadband investment. They found that sales per capita grew almost twice as fast in Lake County compared to the control group.
Similar patterns have emerged for communities using FTTH provided by private enterprise. Fort Wayne, Indiana, has taken good advantage of a Verizon FiOS investment there, for instance. And in February 2007, two big studies of housing sales in Massachusetts – where FiOS is coming on line in numerous communities – show a startling recovery. Sales are up, and prices are down only slightly (after a decade-long rise that makes housing there among the most expensive in the United States).
The data are clear and consistent: FTTH, whether provided by private or municipal organizations, is an economic plus for all communities, and an outright boon for many.
FTTH and Economic Development FTTH helps define successful communities just as good water, power, climate and transportation have defined them for millennia.
Also a must-read, the american online magazine Broadband Properties. Its baseline : "Building The Fiber-Connected Community".