Malta announces plans to roll out nationwide FTTH network

The Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications in the Republic of Malta has launched a call for expressions of interest in the rollout of a next-generation broadband infrastructure to supply ultra-fast broadband services across the islands of Malta and Gozo.

Feb 22nd, 2012

The Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications in the Republic of Malta has launched a call for expressions of interest in the rollout of a next-generation broadband infrastructure to supply ultra-fast broadband services across the islands of Malta and Gozo.

The Government of Malta says it is committed to accelerating the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband services to all areas of Malta and Gozo, concentrating initially on priority broadband users such as schools, hospitals, businesses, and providers of other public services, where possible. Following this, it plans to reach all residential areas in a phased approach through a nationwide FTTH network.

"This network is essential for Malta to continue to be among the leading nations in the field of ICT, building upon its successes in creating new jobs in the ICT and service-based industries to Malta and enabling the Government to continue to be the European leader in eGovernment services. Our plans for eHealth and eLearning solutions, which will bring state-of-the-art healthcare and learning solutions into our homes, are dependent on having a resilient, future-proof network, offering services in a competitive environment," said Minister Austin Gatt.

The objective of having an ultra-fast broadband network is in line with the EU-wide objective of 100-Mbps service availability and widespread take-up by 2020.

The Government’s previous efforts in ICT have led to Malta becoming the European leader in eGovernment services, and being the first country in Europe to mandate 4-Mbps connections as the minimum threshold for access to the Internet.

Following the publication of the "Green Paper on Next Generation Access Infrastructure", the Government carried out a series of consultations with stakeholders and commissioned a feasibility study to determine the cost of a FTTH network in Malta; the most suitable technologies to deploy; and the best investment model to implement. This has been a mammoth task involving the analysis and costing of various passive and active options, it says.

These studies highlight the significant investment challenges associated with the rollout of ultra-fast broadband networks, and Government says it is prepared to share some of the risks and incentivize investment through direct intervention. Intervention by the Government will aim to ensure that wholesale access is available on the market to foster healthy retail competition. An appropriate range of wholesale products will be required to enable service providers to differentiate from each other.

The Government of Malta says it will consider suitable investment and operational models, such as:

  • a private design, build, and operate model, with state funds or assets being made available to the private investor to assist in the deployment of the new network; in this model the Government of Malta would have no role in the ownership or running of the network but may impose obligations in return for the funding
  • a joint venture model where the ownership of the network would be split between Government and the private sector, with the construction and operational functions undertaken by the private sector.

The call for expressions of interest is intended to lead to an open tender process in line with the OJEU Competitive Dialogue procedure. The bidder with the lowest amount of aid required will be the winner, subject to all other criteria being met.

For more information on FTTx/access systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

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