That’s why Sweden can be overtaken in the fiber race

Sweden’s position in the fiber race


Full-scale development of fiber network is ongoing in Sweden. The question is whether it is enough. Nowadays many European countries are investing massively in their fiber networks, which creates a demand for expertise.

— "A lot of Swedish resources and skills can soon be captured by other countries, while more major markets start to seriously build up fiber networks," said Marco Forzati, researcher at RISE Institute.

Sweden is still at the forefront of the fiber network industry, but nowadays more and more European countries are massively investing in it. One of them is Italy. It has earmarked 5 billion euros for fiber expansion, and the country's government hopes another 7 billion to come from private actors. All Italian regions have contributed financial resources putting them into a common pot. Then the government has adopted a national strategy on how to allocate resources and achieve the goal.
— Italy has adopted a national strategy and announced public procurement, where the winner was assigned to expand the fiber network and operate it for 25 years. But the network itself is owned by the state, while Internet and television services are provided by independent operators, explains Marco Forzati, who researches broadband Internet and society at the RISE Institute.

Important not to slow down
Sweden has long been doing well in creating the open city network compared with the rest of Europe. However, that does not mean that Sweden can now sit back and be satisfied: about 30% of the population still lack the opportunity to connect. Thus, Marco Forzati believes that much of the resources and competence may in the near future be entice by the rest of the world, when more and more large markets are starting to build up fiber networks.
'We already have good competition and good industry organization in the Swedish State Network Association and good skills among the actors. Therefore, it is important not to lose speed and continue the expansion of the fiber network to the remaining 30 percent of the population before the competition for the resources risks reducing the pace and making the expansion more expensive. Money can be found, it's all about prioritizing,' he says.

”The government must begin to engage more”
The Swedish government has set an ambitious goal: 95% of the population are to have access to broadband at at least 100 Mbit/s by 2020. By 2025 everyone is supposed to have access to 30 Mbit/s Internet and at least 98 percent will have access to 1 Gbit/s at home.
'For 1 Gbit/s Internet, fiber is the only option, there is no actual alternative that can deliver the speed,' explains Marco Forzati.
The path to the goal seems long, however, and large parts of rural areas lack connectivity. In order to facilitate and accelerate the deployment, the government has earmarked 150 million for this purpose. But it is not enough, says Marco Forzati and adds:
— 150 million is a piece of the puzzle, but it is not enough. A billion is required. The government must begin to engage more and not hand over the entire responsibility for the deployment to the municipalities and private companies.

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