Fibre to the premises – the Swedish way

Think infrastructure rather than just FTTH, FTTP or Full fibre. Think smart homes, society and the right to community services rather than just sending an email, listening to music or watching TV. Access to the web is about so much more: participation, communication, development and opportunities – to realise your dreams, for a better life. 

In Sweden, FTTH is part of our social and economic infrastructure. We think about it and treat it as something of great value to our society – today and in the future. This is Fibre To The Premises the Swedish way.

We at CTS want to share our experiences of working with FTTP. We want to show the good aspects of building full fibre – not least profitability. For over 12 years, we have been assisting various FTTP players in Sweden with our knowledge in this particular field of technology. The FTTH/FTTP world outside of Sweden is growing and we would like to contribute as much as we can with the experiences we have gained. For one thing is certain: smart homes are coming, as is the digitalisation of our world, and to make it good we all need to start thinking about the future and the end customer. 

FTTH/FTTP, infrastructure and Full Fibre in Sweden

In Sweden, we have one of the cheapest internet services in the world, thanks to extensive FTTH and FTTP networks. That is why we are able to carry out many of our errands online. We also use the web for our work, which, among other things, has made a lot of contribution to the success  for both the Swedish Music Wonder and the computer game industry in Sweden. With FTTH/FTTP/full fibre and free competition comes societal development that is quite something. 

Low tariffs and the free competition in providing internet service are the keys to the success in Sweden’s FTTH/FTTP market. The dominant model is that one player is installing and implementing the fibre network, including active equipment that connects houses and premises. These players do not offer services to end users. Instead, they let other companies, specialised in internet access services and other IP based services, use their FTTH/FTTP network to offer their products. This allows free and open competition, which is good for the end customer – to be able to choose from various service providers based on their own preferences. 

In this model, the owner of the FTTH and FTTP networks treat the fibre as infrastructure, such as water pipes or electricity networks. All the services that run on the fibre will bring both tangible and intangible value to the communities. If you are a property owner, an FTTH/FTTP fibre network can make the property more attractive, while also recouping the money you invested from the service providers using your FTTH/FTTP network. A robust fibre network also enables you to connect more services, such as elevators, ventilation and other sensors, which makes the property smarter, safer and more efficient. 

Digging and putting down fibre is the most expensive part in the network building process. This is why many of the network owners, and many of CTS’ customers, are energy or utility companies. They split the cost between building power and fibre optics networks and get half the cost. For this reason, both large and small service providers sign agreements with the energy companies and deliver the services on the energy companies’ fibre networks.

FTTH Key Features: Stability, Security and Robustness

Swedes build their FTTH network primarily with point-to-point technology. This means that each user will have a dedicated line, without having to share bandwidth with their neighbours. A dedicated line also means easier maintenance for network owners, as every end user is independent from each other. It is much easier to locate and narrow down the problems. As a result, you will have a more stable FTTH network, and more satisfied customers.

Building FTTH point to point is initially more expensive than building a passive network. But if we want to create an FTTH network with the capacity to provide the most stable, secure and robust service in the long term, it needs to have infrastructure standards. And point-to-point technology brings you that. 

FTTH/FTTP and full fibre in Europe vs. Sweden

The legislation in Europe is close to covering open access FTTH/FTTP – where monopolies are not allowed. Indeed, there are more and more people talking about the concept of Open Access, but they are missing the real deal. And trust us: we speak from experience. 

It is more commonly seen in other countries that FTTH is provided by some form of monopoly, just as the Swedish state-owned Televerket had back in the days. They owned the copper network, and at the same time acted as a service provider (providing telephony services). This leaves the end customer with no freedom in selecting the preferred service providers. A more present example of how a non-open-access-FTTH/FTTP brings negative effects is the USA, where the internet services cost two to four times as much as in Sweden.

Another thing that happens on the continent is the CPE:s installed only have one port. Something that Telia used to install in the beginning over twenty years ago. Now, we Swedes (including Telia) build for the future by only installing CPE:s with at least four ports, and we hope to inspire the rest of the world to do the same. Otherwise, they will probably be forced to replace the CPE:s within a couple of years. In fact, one port is already not enough – in most cases there is one port for the Internet and one port for the TV. Later on, we may use different ports for different types of services, such as streaming, social media and regular use of the web. With four ports, you are ready for this type of change. 

Most of us know that change can be difficult. Why change something that pays well and gives you customers? If we boil it down, it is about three things: openness, competition and stability. With a reliable, open FTTH/FTTP network, attracting a palette of services from different suppliers, you will get more customers that also are more satisfied. By investing in FTTH/FTTP/Full Fibre based on the Swedish model, both your company and the community that it is a part of can develop in a way that is necessary today – for individuals, society and the environment.