Eircom launches FTTH open access pilot

Ei-lgflag I'll be honest, I was surprised to see that Eircom was launching an open access FTTH pilot. They announced this earlier this week, as you can see from this press release. Why am I surprised ? I guess mostly because considering the financial situation that I understand Eircom to be in, I simply don't see how they can go beyond this pilot and actually deploy anything significant. I also think it's unlikely to imagine the Irish government, whose debts levels have been cause for concern recently, to pitch in significantly.

Still, it's an interesting initiative, and there are a few things in that press release and slide deck that could be landmark findings if implemented. In particular, Eircom is talking about unbundled GPON (you know, that thing that Ofcom and BT say is not technically feasible). This is outlined in slide 22 of the powerpoint deck presented this week in Ireland:

An Unbundled Fibre proposition could be developed which would allow Operator hand-off to remain at the exchange. Offer will consist of two distinct elements:

– Dedicated fibre connections from the Operator co-location space in the eircom exchange building to dedicated splitters in each fibre cabinet

– Individual unbundled fibres from the fibre cabinet to the customer premises and connected to the dedicated splitter at the point of service provision

Fibre [would be] terminated on a simple passive NTU in the customer premises

Operator provided ONT in the customer premises connecting to Operator OLT in the co-location space

This is very similar conceptually to the unbundling of NTT's EPON. It remains to be seen how efficient economically this solution can be, and I'm a little concerned that on the scale of 10.000 homes, which is the size of this pilot, it's going to be hard to assess the economy of that solution.

Still, it's interesting that someone in Europe is willing to try. I'd be curious to understand if this is truly an open access policy approach coming from Ericom themselves (a la KPN) or if this is the result of regulator or government pressures.