A preview of coming attractions

by Stephen Hardy

Next month will bring not only a new year, but a new look to Lightwave Europe. The reformatting of the publication is inspired by the fact that most of you now receive Lightwave Europe digitally. This means we can offer you in the pages of the "magazine" a lot of the benefits you've only associated with websites:

• Embedded video: For example, our front cover will feature our new "First Take" video, located where the mailing label is now. We'll use the feature to offer our view on industry events or to provide you with additional information we couldn't fit elsewhere in the issue. If you don't want the video because of file size concerns, don't worry; we'll offer you the option of downloading the publication without it. You can also use Internet–based access so file size won't become a storage issue.

• Links to online content: Not just links, but lots of links. For example, each article will have a list of links you can follow to relevant, related content online. You'll also find links to the best content we've provided on our website each month.

• A new, more readable design: All of our articles will start on their own page and run consecutively until they end. (If they're not long enough to fill the last page, we'll probably have to jump that last little bit to pair it with the end of some other article. Hey, there's only so much we can do.) For those of you who print out articles from the digital edition to read later, that means you won't have to hunt down four unrelated page numbers to get the entire article. And we're reformatting the page dimensions so they'll fit better on standard printer paper, so you won't go blind trying to read them.

Meanwhile, those of you who continue to receive Lightwave Europe in print will benefit from a cleaner, easier to read, more updated look. We'll also provide URLs for many of the links mentioned above so that you can access the same additional content the next time you're in front of your computer. And who knows�maybe our extra features may tempt you to give the digital edition a try.

We'll also embark on a six–times publication schedule in 2009. This means you'll get Lightwave Europe every other month, which will make the information we present more timely. We hope you'll agree that Lightwave Europe will become a much more useful tool for you, and we look forward to your feedback.

Stephen M. Hardy
Editorial Director & Associate Publisher
stephenh@pennwell.com

by Kurt Ruderman

The European telecoms industry continues to lament Europe's FTTH lag�some 5 million homes passed compared to more than 60 million in Asia, where the market leaders have proactive government FTTH policies.

However, on the legislative side, the situation is changing. European Union members understand the need for more regulation and have made a lot of progress over the past year. The European Commission (EC) has drafted a new European regulatory framework that could become law in a year. The legislation, which clearly identifies different FTTx technologies, is designed to serve as a guide for national regulators.

European and national legislators are on the right track with legislative efforts aimed at stimulating FTTx deployments. But they will need to focus more on economic issues in the wake of the global recession if they want to eliminate the digital divide in Europe and reach the levels of FTTH deployments seen in Asia today. As credit becomes scarce, Europeans will likely be forced in many areas to consider the open access model used in the Netherlands and in Scandinavia, where municipalities own and operate the passive fibre layer and restrict competition to service and content providers. This model guarantees the maximum FTTH coverage in cities and reduces the risks of the overbuilding and bankruptcies that occurred as a result of the boom in Europe's long–distance fibre market.

FTTH infrastructure competition is beginning to face hurdles and disputes in France, Portugal, and where national regulators are already implementing FTTx regulations that are in line with EC proposals. The problems have arisen despite regulations requiring incumbents to share telecoms infrastructure�mainly ducts�and the obligation of the first operator to enter a building to share the building's fibre network with competitors. Haggling over duct sharing and building fibre interconnections has already frozen FTTH plans in Spain and slowed FTTH roll out schedules in France.

Although the FTTH Council Europe and ARCEP, the French regulator, have called for government intervention in rural and underserved markets to stimulate FTTH deployments, they have taken a laissez faire attitude in cities with a high level of competition, aside from the duct and building cabling sharing requirements. But for the moment incumbents and alternative operators are rolling out FTTH networks only in Tier 1 markets. So if these initial plans stall or fail, there will be little likelihood of these companies building FTTH networks in Tier 2 or 3 markets. And without successful FTTH projects in the big European markets there will be less pressure to build FTTH networks in smaller markets.

Kurt Ruderman
European Editor
kurtruderman@wanadoo.fr

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