Full Fiber, Europe’s wholesale-only operators form new alliance

The Chairmen and CEOs of the leading European full fiber wholesale-only and open access operators, namely CityFibre (UK), Deutsche Glasfaser (Germany), Open Fiber (Italy), Gagnaveita Reykjavikur (Iceland) and SIRO (Ireland), met in Rome in  presence of Johannes Gungl, Chair of BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) and of Erzsebet Fitori, Director General of FTTH Council Europe to discuss the future of the telecommunications market and explore opportunities to accelerate the deployment and take-up of full fibre infrastructure across Europe.

Wholesale-only operators are fibre network specialists which, in the absence of a retail arm, solely invest in new high-speed open access fiber networks for the benefit of all service providers. This is a proven business model that is now witnessing significant growth in Europe, especially for the deployment of Fibre To The Home (FTTH) and Fibre To The Building (FTTB). Millions of homes and business are set to benefit from the rollouts of transformational full fibre networks, delivering significant economic benefits for the European digital sector.

The new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) expressly encourages wholesale only operators by providing them with a specific, light regulatory regime as they naturally provide access to multiple telecom service providers without discrimination or abuses. For this reason, the wholesale-only model is the ideal vehicle for the roll-out of very high capacity networks as envisaged by the Code, as well as a facilitator of innovative services such as Internet of Things (IOT) and 5G.

Given the high costs of constructing new FTTH / FTTB networks, the wholesale only model is the best approach to achieve large scale full fibre infrastructure rollout as it aggregates demand from many service providers who benefit from the very high capacity future proof connectivity. Depending on the market conditions, independent open access operators can facilitate the same goal.

Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Open Fiber, said: “It has been a great pleasure for Open Fiber to host the meeting. The companies gathering in Rome have agreed to create an alliance to share best-practice and to promote the benefits and advantages of the full fiber wholesale-only, which deliver full fiber infrastructure far more efficiently than vertically integrated incumbent operators.

The alliance will work in order to ensure these benefits are duly understood by governments, regulators and financial investors, as well as promoting the awareness of these independent fibre networks to service providers and mobile operators. The alliance also believes it has a role in educating and informing the European consumer about what genuine very high capacity networks are and is challenging the misuse of the word “Fiber” in marketing broadband services that are delivered on legacy copper based networks.

Sean Atkinson, CEO of SIRO said: “SIRO is leading a digital transformation across Ireland and we are always keen to collaborate with our European counterparts. The EU Digital Agenda is ambitious and we believe that the new generation of non-incumbent 100% Fibre companies are best placed to help achieve its goals. We are delighted to be part of this new alliance and look forward to presenting a united voice on the importance of FTTH and FTTB at this important moment for European connectivity.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said: “Wholesale only has been at the heart of CityFibre’s strategy from day one. We are leading the rollout of full fiber infrastructure across the UK, deploying modern digital infrastructure to millions of homes and businesses, empowering all service providers, mobile operators and digital innovators. It is the new generation of fibre infrastructure operators that are building FTTH faster, quicker and cheaper than incumbent legacy operators, and CityFibre welcomes collaboration with our alliance partners across Europe”.

Uwe Nickl, CEO of Deutsche Glasfaser, “Sharing best practices to speed up deployment and take-up of pure FTTH networks is a crucial factor in achieving the European fibergoals. Together we can really move.”  

Erling Freyr Guomundsson, CEO of Reykjavik Fiber Network (Gagnaveita Reykjavikur), said: “It has been our mission to provide Icelandic homes with full fiber to be able to be a part of the smart community worldwide. This new alliance will strengthen Reykjavik Fiber Network in its mission, driving better consumer experience for our customers and our wholesale allies’ customers. We are certain that the wholesale open access business model can drive competition and increase the quality of connections. Iceland is one of the fastest country in the world according to Speedtest.net Global Index, thanks to our one gigabit network that reaches 95% of our customers”.

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