Amsterdam gets it on community fiber

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 11/07/2005 - 12:08

EuroTelcoBlog has a story on Amsterdam's community fiber initiative.

The Dutch city has committed to running fiber to every home and business, and is starting with 40,000 homes, or about 10% of the city. So over the next seven to ten years, everyone in the city will have access to community-managed fiber and a wide variety of private sector services--in other words, competition and choice. This citation from the city-issued report shows how serious the city leaders are:

"This enables our city to compete with other European cities. The fiber network delivers to Amsterdam an innovative and freely accessible infrastructure, suitable to support growth in demand for the next 30 years or more. In this way we ensure a wide open marketplace for innovative service-providers and economic growth, as well as a fast track for the smarter and cheaper delivery of care, education and other public services."

The project is particularly interesting because of its organizational component. A stock corporation has been formed (something I've argued for for years), and the city holds one third of the stock, local housing corporations hold one third (probably the equivalent of our HUD-style housing efforts), and private investors hold one third. It is a public private partnership, and telcos and other telecom players could invest in and profit from the shared infrastructure. The private sector ownwership componenent neatly sidesteps the "unfair competition" issue tossed around so casually in the U.S.

For American towns, cities, and regions, this is the competition. And there is another message here as well. There is a lot of DSL in Europe, and Amsterdam has said, with this initiative, "We don't think DSL is good enough."

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