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A Fibre Optic Future!

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Fibre Optic Valley is a cluster of ICT communities and educational institutes developing cutting edge applications using fibre optic technologies and telecommunications. Business Development Manager …

Fibre Optic Valley is a cluster of ICT communities and educational institutes developing cutting edge applications using fibre optic technologies and telecommunications. Business Development Manager Jeanette Waax talks with Telecoms IQ to explain some of her interesting insight ahead of her presentation.

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  • 1. FTTx Summit 2011    Jeanette Waax, business development manager, Fibre Optic Valley       Fibre Optic Valley is a cluster of ICT communities and educational institutes developing cutting edge applications using fibre optic technologies and telecommunications. Jeanette talks with Telecoms IQ to explain some of her interesting insight ahead of her presentation.Telecoms IQ: Hello and welcome to this podcast by Telecoms IQ for the FTTx conferencetaking place from April11th to the 14th in London. The event will help you to understand thebusiness case, the models and the deployment strategies available for deploying fibre opticnetworks. I am Richard de Silva. Joining me today is Jeanette Waax, the businessdevelopment manager for Sweden based community Fibre Optic Valley. The valley is acluster of ICT communities and educational institutes developing cutting edge applicationsusing fibre optic technologies and telecommunications. How are you, Jeannette? Are youwell?JW: Yes thank you.Telecoms IQ: Well, fantastic to have you on the line. I am curious to know, first of all: whyis Sweden so advanced in terms of optical fibre coverage despite being, from what Iunderstand, quite a sparsely populated country? There is a lot of open rural land betweenyour towns and cities. How have you managed to put most of the rest of us to shame?JW: Yes, that is true, Sweden is sparsely populated and there are several factors that standbehind the high fibre penetration in Sweden. One important factor is that we have publicallyfunded support projects to endorse the rollout of fibre and secure robust broadbandnetworks. Another thing is the extensive research and development within telecom.Performed for many years by Swedish flagship companies such as Ericsson and Telia and inSweden, the first fibre optic networks were connected in the mid 80s so other players haveplayed an important role as well, such as universities and the research institute, to furtherenhance technology development, for example, through the use of test networks for realisticpilot studies. And third you can say, in Sweden a large number of the fibre optic networkshave been built by public bodies like town councils and formerly state owned companies.Infrastructure has always been a priority in our country and Swedes were always earlyadapters of new technology. Open networks that allow a wide range of service providers toget access to end users, have also been of great importance for the fibre success.Telecoms IQ      1 
  • 2. Telecoms IQ: Excellent. So an early start, a lot of public support, and innovation. Good tohear. From what I understand, you’re currently on quite a big mission. Could you justoutline for us the aims for this community of yours, Fibre Optic Valley, and explain to us howit operates?JW: Fibre Optic Valley was founded in 2004 as an initiative from the local driving forces;they saw the need for a new branch in the region, apart from traditional industry. And we arebased on a non profit association involving the community, academia and private companiesin a region with 500,000 inhabitants in mid-Sweden. Our main purpose is to connectacademia, private companies and public bodies in cooperative projects around fibre opticsand the broadband society arm. And that, of course, creates economic growth, more jobsand we are the broker of contacts and the coordinator of competence in our network. Wealso support SME with business development, nationally and internationally, and weestablish co-operation with similar organisations around the world. Today we have 29 formalmember and partner companies in our network, including universities but, of course, a largenumber of partners that we don’t have a formal agreement with. So I think that is the shortversion.Telecoms IQ: And is this effort to pool resources and knowledge not a hindrance to healthycompetition – is that a fair concern?JW: I would not like to call it a concentration of resources; on the contrary it supportscompetition and development since our independent role enables us to engage in anyinnovative projects. And through this network, SMEs who could have difficulties competingwith larger players during start up get turns to grow and to reach new markets. The bigcompanies and universities, in their turn, get a channel to be an innovative SME theyotherwise could have missed. So I’d rather call it something other than concentrated orclosed.Telecoms IQ: Okay. Can you tell us about any success stories that companies involved inthis community have experienced? Any practical examples you can give us?JW: Yes, absolutely. I’d like to point out a company named Hawk International, which I willtell you more about during my speech at the conference. A few years ago the founder of thiscompany felt he wanted to change his lifestyle and move out of the stressful Stockholm areaso he and his wife bought an old picturesque school house in a small village in mid Sweden.The problem was that he is a professional film editor and to continue a successful career heneeded a solution for quick distribution of film materials to his fellows in Stockholm and otherplaces. And with four to five optics valley he created a web based platform for filmpostproduction and the high speed fibre connection to his house was a crucial factor for thebirth of the platform. So now he is travelling around the world as a spokesman for thisinnovative tool and even Hollywood has shown interest, so this is very exciting. Anothercompany named Radium has used the LAN facilities of Fibre Optic Valley to develop a newspeciality fibre which is unique in the world. We are also helping them with marketingactivities, for example trade shows and press releases, and they are gaining large attentionfrom both market and media. And even though being a start up company, they already haveorders for the unique fibre, from all over the world.Telecoms IQ: Very interesting. It sounds like you have developed a model that could,perhaps, be of use to companies and networks outside of Sweden. Can I ask you, is FibreOptic Valley collaborating itself with any other group or nation? Is there any outsideinterest?Telecoms IQ      2 
  • 3. JW: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this way of working in clusters is very common in Europe, andyes we do. To mention a few, in Sweden, we cooperate with Sweden Broadband Allianceand the Urban Network Association but outside Sweden we are an official associate pathwayto bring fibre to the whole [unclear] of Europe and we have strong links to the UK through theProject One North East. Malta is another example where we have good contacts with thecommunication authorities in SmartCity, Malta. And in Singapore, we are connected to theIE Singapore and private corporations like Sigmatel and in Paris we cooperate withCapDigital. We tend to do more and more international connections since big projectsnormally are trans-national.Telecoms IQ: It really is making an impact then. If we just take a step back for the momentand look at potential short term and long term technological developments, Jeanette, isoptical fibre here to stay? And if so, is that down to the fact that it’s the best option for futurecommunications or simply because we are investing so heavily into it now that we reallydon’t have a choice even if something else enters our technological evolution?JW: No, optical fibre is definitely here to stay. Without a strong fibre optic backbone,today’s mobile solutions would not have existed. Fibre optics and the mobile [unclear] live insymbiosis. With traffic volumes are exploding, increasing ten times every fourth year, but ofcourse even optical fibre is developing. One example is the need for cheaper solutions inseparate buildings. Plastic optical fibre is being used inside the house and the laser isreplaced by LED. An increase in traffic volume demands new ways of taking care of theoptical centres of the networks. Therefore the [unclear] development of optical switches isgoing on. Optical fibre is used more and more in other areas in communication. Fibre playsan important role in, for example, medical applications and the large construction projectsbut to summarise, yes, optical fibre is definitely here to stay.Telecoms IQ: Good news. We are hoping to learn a lot from you at the presentation, a littlebit more than what you are speaking about today. But are you, yourself, hoping to learn anyparticular lessons from attending and just what are the lessons still to be learnt, from yourperspective?JW: Yes. Well, my expectation for the event – I wish to highlight the use of fibre optics, thecontent in the networks rather than pure technology. For me, the benefits for society are sogood and technology should serve mankind. At this event I hope to find new contacts whowant to be connected to our big network. And the lessons to be learnt – well, how can wecooperate more efficiently in Europe to stop us lagging behind Asia in technologydevelopment? And anyone with thoughts around this issue is welcome to address me at theconference.Telecoms IQ: Excellent, I am sure they will. Jeanette, thank you very much indeed for yourtime. As I say, we do look forward to hearing more from you in just a few months and in themeantime good luck with your project.JW: Thank you very much.You can now register your attendance at FTTx Summit Europe. Email us atenquire@iqpc.co.uk or call us on +44 (0) 20 7368 9300.  Telecoms IQ      3 
  • 4. IQPCPlease note that we do all we can to ensure accuracy within the translation to word of audio interviews but that errors may stillunderstandably occur in some cases. If you believe that a serious inaccuracy has been made within the text, please contact+44 (0) 207 368 9334 or email richard.desilva@iqpc.co.uk.Telecoms IQ      4