Altogether 66 projects applied for the European Broadband Award 2016 from all over Europe. Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, will announce and award the five winners on 14 November at the Award Ceremony of the "B-DAY: Going Giga" conference.
Category 1: Innovative models of financing, business and investment
BürgerBreitbandNetzGesellschaft (BBNG), Broadband with financial citizen participation (Germany)
In the BBNG project, citizens from the whole region participate in the broadband deployment. Neither incumbent nor other providers were willing to establish a network with high bandwidths. Therefore, the BBNG built a region-wide FTTH-network of its own - 3 communities are already connected and 4 communities are currently in the roll-out. The project is privately funded. Everyone can take part and invest as the shareholder – the procedure is transparent and open to individuals, authorities and companies. The open approach of the project is one of the main success factors.
Construction of the Wielkopolska Broadband Network (Poland)
In 2009 the Local Parliament of the Wielkopolska Region established the Wielkopolska Broadband Network (WBN). The company designed, built and operates a fibre-optic network open for all the operators. The financing model was uncommon: an example of public private partnership and a successful mix of managing different financial sources. Private investors were invited and offered the company’s shares in return for financial contributions. As a result, two private companies (INEA S.A. and ASTA-NET) became the shareholders. Contribution from private shareholders and EU funding (ERDF) were combined to build the network.
UBit - Development of broadband and IT-infrastructure (Sweden)
In the county of Västra Götaland, the Ubit group has been working since 2008. The members of the UBit group have attended hundreds of meetings in the countryside, brought people and municipalities together. This combination of awareness raising work, cooperation and expertise has made people start local fibre associations in order to apply for funds from the Swedish Rural Development Programme. The investment in the access network is shared between the developer (usually a local fibre association owned by the households), the households themselves and the Rural Development Programme. Some 66.000 households have received funds from the Rural Development Programme for installing fibre to their houses. This an example of bottom-up approaches with direct link to the citizens, which also guarantees the demand from the beginning of the process.
Category 2: Cost reduction and co-investment
Net4all - Public and private partnership to bring UBB network to industrial areas in digital divide in Emilia-Romagna (Italy)
Region Emilia-Romagna invests in the creation of an Ultra-Broadband (UBB) network serving public administration and private enterprises, the Lepida Network (a private network owned by public administrations). The model is already applied in 12 industrial areas and 90 enterprises, and is based on reuse of existing passive public infrastructure and a public private partnership (co-investing enterprises) to build new networks. This is an example of a successful public and private investment mechanism, resulting in an open network and a strong economic business model.
Breitband-Masterplan für Tirol (Austria)
The Tyrolean Regional Government established appropriate conditions for the Tyrolean municipalities for building their own passive Broadband infrastructure. More than 140 municipalities took part. The TIWAG (energy supply company owned by the Region of Tyrol) provides about 1.500 km of empty conduit infrastructure and the Austrian Federal Government provides additional funds in a grant programme Leerrohrförderung. This is a successful example of joint efforts of regional authorities, municipalities and energy companies in reducing the cost of broadband deployment and providing an open network.
APOLO-CALIFORNIA, FTTH co-investment agreement between Orange & Vodafone (Spain)
Orange and Vodafone coordinated their investments to avoid overlapping in FTTH network deployment. This increased efficiency and speed in the deployment, led to rapid enlargement of the FTTH footprint in Spain and provided high broadband services to the high number of users. This is an example of changing the mind-set: overcoming the difficulties in bringing together large companies, reaching an agreement and making a joint business successful.
Category 3: Socio-economic impact and affordability
EstWin - Estonian Wideband Infrastructure Network (Estonia)
EstWin strives for more than 6.000 km of fibre-optical cables and 1.400 connection points constructed. The construction of the middle mile network ensures that 98% of the residential houses, businesses and authorities in Estonia are located closer than 1.5 km from the middle mile network. The dark fibre backbone network is public-owned; many operators are working on it. This is an example of a large scale investment providing the backbone of the future-proof fibre based network.
Catalunya Connecta, CatCon (Spain)
Catalunya Connecta reduced the investment barriers in providing the radio eServices to the rural areas by combining public investments (infrastructure, towers and equipment providing public TV channels and emergency services) and private investments (concession of service to provide radio access to Internet and private investment of the Mobile Telephony operators –collocation). Selection of new places for radio communication infrastructure was done together with local actors, who provided the land and the permits to roll out the power supply and the civil works. This is an example of a project driven by the regional government in cooperation with the local actors, having high impact on bridging the digital divide as well as enhancing the competitiveness of the regional economy.
Multi-broad net for rural areas and small towns (Poland)
The activities of Multiplay group resulted in the construction of fibre-optic access network with the backbone speed reaching 10 Gbps and access speed of 1 Gbps in FTTH standard. 2.500 km fibre backbone was rolled out at the area of 20 municipalities in Opolskie region, providing internet, IPTV & VoIP services and covering 50 thousand households. This is an example of high socio-economic impact, demonstrating affordability of the prices for low-income users. The project covered mostly rural areas, where building the fibre-optic network, without supporting by European Union’s funds (70% EU funding, 20% private loans) would not be economically justified.
Glasvezel De Wolden - FibreOptic De Wolden (Netherlands)
The municipality De Wolden has about 10.000 homes spread over an area of about 227 square kilometres – an area considered unprofitable by commercial actors. A bottom up, community driven, for-the-people-by-the-people style initiative built an own superfast fibre optic network, connecting every single home and company in the municipality. Through a combination of market financing and governmental financing, project secured EUR 16 million euros needed to build the infrastructure. This is an example of a model, where private companies, energy company and municipalities work together, demonstrating affordability of consumer prices and rentable for operators, that attracted follow up investments in the upper layer (services).
Category 4: Openness and competition
Coöperatieve Vereniging Fryslân Ring - Cooperative Association Fryslân Ring (Netherlands)
The cooperative approach was a natural choice to the Frisian. As a typically agricultural province with a strong dairy industry, cooperative associations of farmers have always been an important part of Fryslân. The cooperative Fryslân Ring is the owner of the recently established fibre networks: an open network infrastructure where serving the interests of the members comes in the first place. Critical success factor was the step-by-step approach: first connecting the business parks and then the rural areas. This an example of open approach, where competition of independent operators leads to multiple choices of actors providing services.
The project nöGIG has proven that it is possible to implement a three-layer open access model with point to point FTTH networks in underserved rural areas, with attractive prices for private and business end users because of a large choice of service providers. Long-term thinking, commitment and endurance paid off. The partners built a regional coalition of municipalities, separated the layers (3-LOM) and focused on infrastructure. The roll-out did not start before the end-user demand aggregation. The financial model was built up at the beginning of the project; processes for planning, building and maintaining the passive infrastructure were established. Building standardised passive infrastructure, establishing quality documentation and exploiting synergies in municipal services (road, water, construction & geo-data management) contributed to the success of the project.
Umeå Energi Broadband Umenet (Sweden)
The project is an example of an open fibre network implemented by a local company. Already in 1995 Umeå Energi started building an optical fibre network. By 2016, 84% of all households (countryside and city) in Umeå municipality had been provided with access to 100 Mbps. The early and unique cooperation between the municipality and the local energy company, alongside with enthusiasm of the population were key success factors. The established business model enables synergies between bottom up-financing, private capital and public funding. Together with openness and competition it leads the way towards reaching the 95% penetration. Several operators are active in the network, on equal conditions applied to all providers.
Category 5: Future-proof and quality of service
The project developed an innovative technology for carrier networks. NG-PON2 increases the current fibre optic speeds, ensures the same speed for upload and download coexists with PONs and supports multiple applications on the same Optical Distribution Network. This is an example of an experimental pre-commercial phase project that demonstrates courage to test a European developed technology that is by now commercially used. NG-PON2 demonstrates also the potential for future upgrades of the fibre networks.
RemIX: A Distributed Internet Exchange for Remote and Rural Networks (UK)
The Scottish Highlands and Islands, where RemIX is currently implemented, consist of mountainous terrain stretching along a 400 km north-to-south corridor. RemIX allows for establishing high-quality backhaul to remote regions, ensuring backhaul affordability for small access networks and allowing networks to maintain the autonomy. This “technically” exciting project demonstrates an innovative architecture concept, and is already commercialised. It focuses on bringing change by affordable technical solutions. The RemIX architecture is recognisable: it adopts familiar components, standards and technologies, to fit within the target environment, and allows for easy transfer of the model. The cooperative business and operating models respect the target audience, while ensuring long-term sustainability.
The Ludgate Hub, Skibbereen - creating the 1 GB community (Ireland)
The Ludgate project, a community bottom up initiative, has resulted in the 1 GB town in Skibbereen and is a blue print for rural areas. The hub is located in a 10.000 square foot building in the centre of the town. The high quality of service is providing a dynamic experience for all users of the 1 GB service in the Ludgate Hub. The connection at the Hub is being used by over 100 businesses and individuals, and over 8 community groups. The rollout to each 1.800 premises in the town is in the final stages, and will shortly be offered to subscribers through retail operators. The 1 GB connection will reach schools, local government buildings and both private and commercial premises. The digital hub concept had positive impact on the economic competitiveness of the region.
Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, will announce and award the five winners on 14 November at the Award Ceremony of the "B-DAY: Going Giga" conference. You can check the agenda and register for the event.