Milan FTTH Conference Wrap-Up

Banner-anime-180-x-150I just got back from Milan last Friday, after four super-hectic days.

There’s little doubt that this was the most successful of the European FTTH Council Conferences, not just in number of attendees (more than 3000 apparently) but in terms of relevant and resonance. I was glad to see that the glitzy keynote speakers we had the previous years who had famous tech industry names and very little to say about the specific issues of FTTH were replaced by two women who had plenty to say, and said it.

Carlota Perez was the opening keynote, and even though I missed her speech I have some idea of what she said (although I’m waiting for the video to be made available) since I had a chance to chat with her later. Professor Perez is an economist whose work focuses on industrial revolutions. Her views regarding infrastructure investment are very interesting and go somewhat against the grain of the current threads of liberal economics. A great way to start the discussion.

The closing keynote speech was by none other than Neelie Kroes, the EU Commissioner for Digital Society. I’ve been told that the commissioner is increasingly frustrated at the inaction, delaying tactics and occasional anti-competitive behaviour of European incumbents on FTTP deployment, and her speech at the conference certainly suggests that might be true. I’m getting a little dispirited at the ability of regulation to kickstart things, but if anyone can do it, it’s Neelie Kroes…

In between those two events, I saw very little of the content, sadly. That’s the flip-side of being an analyst: every vendor wants to speak with you. Since in addition to that we were officially launching Diffraction Analysis, I simply didn’t have a minute to myself either day. On the basis of what I heard though, this is what I think was the good stuff:

  • the business model panel was of a very high level, I was told, and really worth attending. Similarly, Ventura’s Richard Jone’s workshop was much appreciated and name-checked by many speakers. This is the kind of content that people need to hear, perhaps more than the technical side of the show (or maybe that’s just the non-engineer in me talking…)
  • the financing panel was also much appreciated, especially considering that it was the first year such a topic was put forward in such a way. It’s quite clearly vitally important that the financial community be present at such an event considering how important their role is in making or breaking such investment projects
  • the panel I put together on services was very successful (if I say so myself) and I think got people excited because it was a different – and perhaps more down to earth – way of answering the question “why do we need fiber”. I know that the four companies present got a lot of questions and managed to do some networking, which suggests that the panel definitely answered and expectation. The showroom was also an excellent idea, allowing delegates to see the services on display and actually working.

I also got to present on another panel, the first Voice of the Industry: Tactis CEO Stéphane Lelux had to cancel his attendance at the last minute and I took over. I presented the results of a study we’ve undertaken to assess the financial impact of using innovative fiber designs in access deployments. I’ll tell you more about that in a few weeks since we’re releasing a white paper on this.

On the Diffraction Analysis booth, we had a good level of activity throughout the two days. The good thing about there being four of us is that we could still wander around and meet people while manning the booth. We got to meet a lot of interesting people, both ones we knew and ones we didn’t. Our aim was to put our name on the NGA research map and I like to think we did just that. We had paper copies of our Research Agenda and printed versions of our first four reports (the first one is described here, the other three will be put up this week).

It was great to spend those three days with the team. As the company grows, these events are going to become our main gathering points, and it’s good to get a feel for how we work together and think together. Thanks to Herman, Costas and James for the company and the enthusiasm (and the sweets!)

One of the things I realised is that most people aren’t familiar with subscription based Research offerings. Working for a research company as an analyst had led me to believe that this was a universally accepted model, but I realised it isn’t. Just means more education is needed, I guess…

Anyway, it was a great show, and I’m looking forward already to attending in Munich next year (especially since I’ve never been there…) I was really happy to be able to see and talk to Francesco, Fredrik, Pauline, Nadia, Gertrud, Matthew, Tore, Klaus, Karl, Roc, Menahem, Joost, Hartwig, Grace, Andrea, Michael, Roland, Stefaan, Pastora, Chris, Igor, Raj, Thomas, Wolfgang, HS, Rickard, Richard, Sophie, Greg, Thierry, Anne-Sophie, Marcello, Onur, Paulo, Pedro, Amnon, Fulvio, Claudia, Davide, Baudouin, Marcus, Sanjay, Gerlas, Ajay, Colleen, Irina, Christian, Jacques, Jesus and probably many more I’m forgetting.

Do a twitter search on #milanftth11 for lots of links and comments on the show. It looked like me and the guys would be the lone twitterers for the show in the early hours of the 9th, but things picked up and culminated with Neelie Kroes herself tweeting about the event.

This is the event for networking in the FTTH arena, and that’s not changing any time soon!

(Cross posted to