FTTH industry group founded for the little guy

February 28, 2003--Claiming that the FTTH Council "actively lobbies for the monopolist Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers" to the detriment of "smaller-sized FTTH companies," a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) start-up has formed a new promotion and trade organization, 21st Century Infrastructures.

February 28, 2003--Claiming that the FTTH Council "actively lobbies for the monopolist Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers" to the detriment of "smaller-sized FTTH companies," a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) start-up has formed a new promotion and trade organization. The new group, 21st Century Infrastructures (21st CiC) will "create a platform for FTTH builders, operators and service providers; promote, stimulate and assist them; form partnerships with suppliers, vendors, consultants, engineers, and technology providers; introduce industry players with solution providers, content owners and advanced service providers," according to organizers.

The 21st CiC hopes to become for the global FTTH industry what the National Cable & Telecommunication Association (NTCA) is for the CATV operators, in the words of a recent press release.

"Being in the FTTH business for almost three years, with no progress of any kind in this brand-new industry, we found it necessary to stir up the FTTH world. With all due respect, to all members of the FTTH Council, we need action, not just empty words and promises. We needed an organization that creates opportunities, not only hopes for it," said Neal S. Lachman, executive director of the new consortium and president/CEO of LBDC FTTH Holdings Inc. The self-proclaimed "world's most ambitious FTTH start-up," LBDC says that it was the driving force behind the creation of 21st CIC.

The consortium will target seven "groups of interest": FTTH/FTTD system operators, non-CATV system operators, CLECs, TV networks, associates (manufacturers and/or sales firms with hardware or software other than programming for use in FTTH/FTTD ISPs or television distribution systems), affiliates (companies that provide services to FTTH/FTTD ISPs or TV distribution systems), and promotional organizations. However, in keeping with its affinity to small companies, it will not allow ILECs, CLECs in which ILECs have a 25% or greater stake, or CATV operators with more than 100,000 subscriber connections. CATV operators controlled by a larger operator or MSO will be similarly barred from joining.

Memberships are free to individuals. Information on various levels of corporate membership is available on the organization's website.

While claiming that 21st CIC was created by LBDC FTTH Holdings "and other FTTH/fiber-optic executives" and touting "dedicated managers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and The Netherlands," no other companies are listed on the organization's website (which is still under construction). Responding to an email from Lightwave, Lachman wrote, "We have not opened the membership registers yet, because that will only start from March (tomorrow) onward. However, the consortium has already four corporate membership requests, and many individuals are signing up (for free membership). We also got response from three other FTTH start-ups already, even one from Mexico. So, there is a need we fulfill."

The current board of directors includes Lachman, LBDC NA president and CEO Kam Liem, and Ash K. Kohli, a European-based consultant. However, "certain 'top-level' members of 21st CiC can self-nominate themselves for the Board of Directors," according to a posting on the organization's website.

The consortium says it will hold its first meeting to elect a board of directors and committee chairpersons and to ratify its 2003 and 2004 agenda in April 2003. The group also is organizing an education and information conference on May 21 and 22 in Vancouver, BC, and an exposition in the United States in October.

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