The Low Down on French FTTH (as seen from Australia)

Sydney Opera House by Kurtis Garbutt (kjgarbutt)) on
On March 22nd, The Australian published an editorial I wrote on the French FTTH policy model. This came about because in recent weeks the Australian NBN has been under a lot of criticism and announcements on the French FTTH plans have been used in the political sparring there. Sadly, as if often the case with these things, the reports were incomplete or downright erroneous, which may be par for the course in political debate, but is very frustrating when you’re close to the action and see so much misreported.

The Op-Ed is called Competition central to French fast broadband and since it’s behind a paywall, you can find the full text on Google News here.

I thought this was worth a little commentary for my readers in Oz and those that think that publishing an Op-Ed in a conservative newspaper necessarily means I’m espousing the views of the conservatives on this issue.

I’m not. Neither am I espousing labour’s views. I find it hard enough to think in black and white about French politics, so don’t count on me to take sides on what is essentially a political view of an infrastructure project on the other side of the world from me.

That being said, I stand by every word in that Op-Ed. I aimed to describe – as dispassionately as possible – what has been decided for the French FTTH deployment and what remains to be done. This is hopefully what I did.

The fact that there are other models than the Australian model for FTTH deployment shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. That does not per se invalidate the current Australian NBN approach. But just me writing that doesn’t magically make the NBN perfect and exempt from rational criticism either. I would add also that the French model I describe in this Op-Ed isn’t inherently better than any other (even if it’s clearly more aligned with the political views of the conservatives in Australia), and (as an analyst) I’m not certain it’s going to work.

Political rhetoric works in absolutes. That’s completely at odds with what I consider to be the job of an analyst, which is to weigh pros and cons, examine approaches and situations in shades of gray to extract what may work and what won’t as well as what may be replicable elsewhere. If anyone is interested in actual facts, then I’m their man, and that was the deal about this Op-Ed. I’ll leave the interpretation in an Australian context to those who understand the Australian market and politics better than I do (and enjoy fisticuffs).


Photo Credits: Sydney Opera House by Kurtis Garbutt