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Understanding Europe’s FTTH challenges

Written by: Matt Harrison

More than 3,500 decision makers from 1,000 companies headed to Vienna to take in the 2022 FTTH Conference and share their insight, opportunities and challenges concerning connectivity.

As a network services provider that’s committed to helping altnets, communication service providers and investors to design, plan and build the next generation of networks, we were particularly keen to find out more about the FTTH developments to come, and more.

And so, our chief strategy and innovation officer, Matt Harrison, was one of those in attendance. Reflecting on an eye-opening trip to the Austrian capital, here are his key takeaways from a thought-provoking event…

Across Europe, it’s very similar to the UK in terms of connectivity and the array of investment opportunities that are available. However, what we are finding out is that there are fewer altnets compared to our home nations.

There are many reasons for this, one of which is because public funding via the various Governments discourages a competitive landscape compared to the UK. As a result, incumbent operators ultimately get the lion’s share, or at least first choice over anyone else meaning it’s difficult to compete.

That was an interesting observation made as I made my way around the various seminars and stalls at the Messe Wien Exhibition Congress Center in May. And, while the rise of altnets was slower compared to the UK, what I discovered during my trip was European countries are largely experiencing the same challenges as many of us throughout the telecoms industry.

Addressing the telecoms skills gap

A huge obstacle for several firms is on the shortage of resource to undertake builds and designs. Across our nation we’re all too familiar with the increasing skills gap, The Great Resignation and the ‘war of talent’ across the sector. Most organisations are struggling to address their business needs and plug in the right people into the right roles.

And it’s the same story for our neighbouring countries.

Another challenge many peers spoke about in Vienna centred on the build itself, and more importantly, the speed of the build. For example, I took in a talk from a representative from a mainland Europe altnet who said that for every road they wanted to dig, they had to get 21 different permissions. The number of stalls to that one project must’ve been frustrating to say the least.

We know that every country and even each local authority has its own regulations, and it’s becoming more apparent that organisations must lean on specialists to manage each stage of a network build. If they don’t, they’re more likely to experience delays – whether that’s because of time-consuming, and complex, wayleave negotiations or overall network build issues.

Reflecting on my time in Vienna, it was an interesting conference to attend and clearly underlined the vital nature of connectivity.  It was reassuring and alarming in equal measure to understand that those of us collaborating – to futureproof the digital age and eliminate the ‘digital divide’ in mainland Europe and the UK – are coming up the same issues.

Communities, businesses and governments are all crying out for super/ultra-fast connectivity, but progress is being severely slowed by restrictive regulations, permission challenges, inflated costs in the supply chain, availability of materials, competition for resource, salary inflation and general scarcity of skilled labour.

There’s no question that as an industry we must face these critical challenges head-on. But it needs to be done through collaboration, partnerships, technology innovation, local investments and not being scared to try a different approach – all things that underpin what Flomatik stands for – then, the future world of FTTH will be delivered.

If you want to ensure that your next network build doesn’t stall, visit our website or fill out a short form and we’ll get back to you to discuss your project needs.

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