Last night I had the great honor of being invited to give a speech at the inaugural dinner of a new industry group called FTTH Platform Nederland. The Platform's mission is to promote awareness about FTTH, its benefits and the best ways to make it happen. It regroups vendors and service providers and - judging by the attendees last night - is really a who's who of people involved in FTTH in the Netherlands.
I really think the Netherlands is one of the testbeds for fiber deployment, but I also think that - for this very reason - they're hitting on the issues earlier than others. One of the things I said in my speech was that all things considered, getting the infrastructure in the ground was the easy part. Sounds outrageous, I know, but think about it: at the end of the day, it's only a question of resources, considerable though they may need to be.
Increasingly, I think the true hurdle is going to be getting people to hook up to the FTTH network. The benefits are rarely clearly articulated, the offerings by vertically integrated service providers are very often below par and undifferenciated, incumbents have, by and large no copper to fiber migration strategy, open access networks struggle to attract innovative and/or visible service providers... It's all pretty depressing really.
These are the problems that will need to be tackled, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, if FTTH is to be a success story.