Last year Swisscom was the first telco company in Europe to have customers browsing with the standardised G.fast chipset.
Still highly regarded in the industry for leading the way in high bandwidth coverage, we recently caught up with one of our keynote speakers Heinz Herren, CTO and CIO of Swisscom, who oversees the entire IT, Network & Infrastructure division.
So Heinz, how do you explain the success of the Swiss broadband market?
Swisscom alone invests some CHF 1.75 billion per year in IT and infrastructure – around 18% of its domestic revenues. Other telcos are also getting involved, thereby, encouraging competition as well as innovation and playing their part along with Swisscom in consolidating Switzerland’s position as a leading provider of broadband access compared with other countries. There are a range of opinions on whether such large investments pay off and I will be addressing this as part of my keynote speech “Leading the Way in High Bandwidth Coverage” at Broadband World Forum.
For our readers who aren’t aware, could you provide a brief overview of Swisscom’s fixed-network projects?
Of course, there are quite a few! FTTH expansion is at an advanced stage and the nationwide vectoring of FTTC-DSLAM has been completed. The most exciting ones are undoubtedly FTTdp with G.fast and DSL+LTE bonding, which combines the fixed-line and mobile networks. We aim to make use of new technologies as early as possible where it is appropriate to do so.
One of our objectives is technology leadership. Rather than focusing on a single technology such as FTTH, we manage a portfolio of several technologies in an efficient manner. This enables us to address different conditions and requirements on a regional basis and select the most appropriate technology option in terms of costs, performance and rollout.
So specifically focusing on DSL evolution now, last year we had a lot of interest in G.fast – are you able to give some insight into the results you are seeing from G.fast so far?
We are convinced about the potential and sustainability of the technology. We have already had very good experiences with the two pilot customers on a live network in 2015.
Since January 2016 we have been installing the first micro-CANs in various small communities in order to further test network stability and performance, and we like what we are seeing; the technology is living up to its promise and making copper networks competitive again amid the fierce competition for infrastructure and bandwidth. From around September, Swisscom will be one of the first telcos worldwide to roll out G.fast to a mass-market. I am looking forward to sharing our experiences of the technology with colleagues during my keynote speech at Broadband World Forum.
Do you think G.fast will slow down investment in FTTH connections?
Yes, our network expansion strategy already led to a reduction in FTTH investment in Switzerland. We see that FTTH makes sense economically in urban areas. And with G.fast in suburban and rural areas we can boost the performance of our existing copper infrastructure within an acceptable time frame and using a reasonable amount of capital.
Swisscom is committed to a technology mix that includes hybrid fibre-optic technologies such as FTTdP with vectoring and G.fast alongside FTTH. All of these technologies have one thing in common: they are bringing optical fibres one step closer to the customer.
What excites you most about the advent of faster broadband and internet connectivity?
What excites me most is the plethora of things people can do thanks to new possibilities. Broadband expansion encompasses the real requirements that are being created through the spread of digitisation.
We have just activated Switzerland’s first UHD 4K television channel and launched the next generation of our Swisscom TV 2.0 set-top box. New cloud services and home working are also real requirements that broadband expansion is opening up to more and more people.
Thanks Heinz, we look forward to hearing more during your keynote! For you, what are you most looking forward to at the show?
BBWF is a wonderful opportunity for us to share ideas and experiences with industry colleagues and partners. I am especially keen to learn about new trends, concepts and strategies that are also relevant for Swisscom or will be in the future. Our industry is changing at lightning speed. It is therefore important to keep one’s finger on the pulse – no-one can afford to stand still.
Heinz Herren, will be speaking at Broadband World Forum in London in October. Visit our website for more information on our agenda and speakers, then book your place.