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Summary:

Google last week announced Google Fiber, an experimental fiber-to-the-home network it plans to use to connect between 20,000 and 200,000 homes. And while we wait for that network to take shape, Reggefiber of the Netherlands is moving ahead and upgrading its network to 1 Gbps.

Google last week announced Google Fiber, an experimental fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that the company plans to build and use to connect between 20,000 and 200,000 homes. And while we wait for that network to take shape, Reggefiber of the Netherlands is moving ahead and is upgrading its network to 1 Gbps. (Related post: So Where Else in the World Can You Get 1 Gbps to the Home?)

My friend David Isenberg, who organizes the wonderful Freedom 2 Connect (F2C) conference, sent me a link to a story this morning. The gist of the news is that ReggeFiber, in partnership with Dutch incumbent KPN, will make 1 Gbps the standard connection speed for all FTTH customers. The company currently has more than 300,000 customers and is on target to grow to a million subscribers. Zeewolde is the first city that will get the service.

How can Reggefiber do this? The company has seen steep declines in the price of equipment — from modems to central office stuff — which has allowed it to offer this service. Reggefiber uses networking equipment from Cisco Systems, Swedish gear maker Packet Front and modems made by a local company called Genexis.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Google Buzz, Fiber and Their Place in the Smart Grid

By Om Malik

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  1. Hash, Hookers, and now High Speed Fiberized Internet?!!??!?! Dude, I’m soooo leaving this oppressive dialup hell,..

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    1. I am following you :-)

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      1. I am already there but the hookers keep stealing my hash while I’m distracted by the Internet.

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  2. Can you give us the URL Isen sent you?

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  3. Genexis is also partnering with Case Western University in Cleveland in their 1 Gbps trial.

    See more on http://www.genexis.nl/news.php?id=press&art=24

    The global trend is up anyway, see http://www.dadamotive.com/2010/02/crossing-the-barrier.html on Lyse’s 400/400 Mbps offer.

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    1. Thanks Herman for the plug – not clear how many people know what we’re doing right HERE in the U – S of A.

      Creating jobs is what its all about – and those jobs will require tech skills. And connectivity.

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      1. hey marc

        Good to hear from you buddy. and i am quite familiar with what you guys are doing. just waiting for some news from you folks.

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    2. Herman

      Thanks for the update. I will follow up with you via email as well.

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  4. A link to the press release on the 1 GBps is here

    http://www.genexis.nl/news.php?id=press&art=24

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  5. So whats an easy way to understand 1Gbps – like, download a HD movie in under a second or something like that?

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  6. As of now, the fastest available subscription will be ‘only’ 200/200 mbit, but it’s correct that the CPE can handle a gigabit symmetrical.

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  7. In most netbooks/laptops the transferspeed to your hard drive inside your laptop is on average below 1 GBps….Cloud computing will become a different experience.

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  8. Om – Has Stacy (Swiss Mrs) H. put in for a transfer yet?

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    1. She isn’t leaving Austin anytime soon.

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  9. Hey Om!

    Not sure if you know this – but here in Cleveland we’re installing 1G connectivity into homes and apartments – just like Google wants us to.

    The effort is being led by Lev Gonick – who writes about it eloquently here: http://blog.case.edu/lev.gonick/2010/02/14/googles_1b_gigabit_fiber_to_the_home_moon_shot

    I then wrote up accolades to Lev – which is one of the main reasons why I moved here: http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2010/02/17/shooting-for-the-moon/

    Turns out the gigabit set top box we’re using is from Amsterdam – so I guess I’ll HAVE to go and meet them!

    Anyway – we’re working to build our future and create jobs here in North Eastern Ohio (NEO.)

    • marc
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  10. I continue to be amazed by the discussion surrounding broadband “speeds.” We’re talking about networks measured in terms of capacity, not objects measured in terms of speed. This is important because we intuitively understand that “one billion bits per second” (a capacity measure) represents a maximum, not a fixed rate, whereas “55 miles per hour” (a speed measure) is a fixed rate.

    Further, 1Gbps represents the capacity of the last-mile connection only. All other aspects of the large and complex network infrastructure in between source and destination are oversubscribed and have, on a per-subscriber basis, much less bandwidth than is available in the last mile connection. That is why, according to Akamai’s The State of The Internet (Q3/2009), a country like Japan, with almost ubiquitous 100Mbps fiber connectivity, enjoys an average downstream bit rate of only 7.92Mbps.

    One gigabit fiber connections are all well and good but by themselves are roughly analogous to 15-lane freeway on-ramps. Unless the capacity of the freeway is substantially augmented I won’t get to work any faster.

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    1. Spot on. Great Post!

      Access does not equal throughput

      I assume this will soon become a lesson to Google – and their foray as a dilletante network services provider.

      More hilarious are Geek Squad & Starbucks barristas on this board who speak of using Wi-Max and other wireless offerings to overcome that troublesome “last mile”.

      1GB access to the Internet??? Swell. Until you come home in the late afternoon, and find out that turning on a continual 1GB feed is a masturbatory dream shared by you and 3 million other broadband wannabees – who, more often than not, are trying to suck this through the same cable TV infrastructure that has been milking it’s cash-cow monopoly franchise for 60 years. .

      It takes dedicated optical fiber, and a dedicated channel from your home to the fiber POP – to the fiber mux – . . . . without co-mingling of other subscriber services.

      Verizon has been providing this via FIOS . After waiting for nearly 4 years, we finally got FIOS installed to our street last month . . . and I can honestly say, we’re getting a continous 40 MBPS+ up/down feed. I understand we can get faster FIOS speeds with a nominal $5 – $10 per month upcharge.

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      1. The Senator, Kevin et. al

        From what I gather, Google is going to build an infrastructure that actually is going to be able to offer a full 1Gbps throughput as it would also hook up to a special backhaul network and would also serve stuff off highly optimized servers. They will be looking at learning from the 1 Gbps experience. Internally this is being viewed as a test bed network.

        Thought I would add that.

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    2. Kevin/The Senator, as an addition to my previous response, I don’t necessarily disagree with you.

      On the Akamai’s report and the Japan’s average downstream numbers — I suspect those are lower because it includes people using DSL. Availability of Fiber connections is one thing. Getting people to buy them is a whole different story. :-)

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      1. Om, I will watch Google with great interest. Virtually every network is built in such a way that core resources are oversubscribed. Given statistical usage patterns, this is an economically sound thing to do. Even if Google refrains from oversubscribing their own assets, the Internet itself is hugely oversubscribed (which, again, it should be). Unless they plan on parking a yottabit switch in, say, Kansas, this will always be a defining characteristic of data networks.

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  11. Interesting that they decided to start service in Zeewolde, a small community on the polder across from Harderwijk. It’s not that far from Amsterdam, but not right next to it either. Most of the other places where Reggefiber has laid down a fiber network are small towns like Meppel. This is definitely a case in which the rural parts get FTTH before the cities!

    When you look at the pattern of how FTTH is provided in the Netherlands, you do not see it in the most densely populated parts of Amsterdam or Rotterdam, the two biggest cities. I recently moved to SF (temporarily) from Amsterdam in late 2008 and I know for sure that I could not get 100 Mbps in the center of Amsterdam, where I used to live. There is FTTH service on the periphery, mostly in the newly built areas of Zeeburg (similar to the Mission Bay district of SF or Docklands in Sydney and London); Osdorp; and Oost-Watergraafsmeer.

    Not mentioned in this article is Reggefiber’s partner in its FTTH rollouts: none other than the (formerly evil) Dutch telecom incumbent, KPN. The Dutch telecom regulator (OPTA) approved their joint venture on the condition that they allow other telecom operators and service providers to lease capacity from the network on a non-discriminatory basis. Indeed, the wholesale lease prices are heavily regulated. See this article I posted on MuniWireless listing the prices:

    http://www.muniwireless.com/2008/12/19/dutch-ftth-venture-open-to-competitors/

    Now, the question is: why isn’t there 100 Mbps+ FTTH service right in the center of Amsterdam where there are a lot of tech companies, advertising agencies, and other firms that could really benefit from the speeds? Why out there in Zeewolde, which is basically a small community of vacation homes and farms?

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    1. Esme

      it might be good to go back and read the post again where I do point out that ReggeFiber is in partnership with KPN.

      Also, the case you make for the heart of Amsterdam, well you could make the case for NY or San Francisco. As Marc points out (and as I did in my previous post) lots of smaller communities are getting those higher speeds earlier because of lower cost of deployment.

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    2. Esme, months later I stumbled on your comment. Good question indeed, why not in the centre of Amsterdam but in Zeewolde, or Niftrik, another rural place with 320 inhabitants of all places ? After a couple of years experience with different models, there seems to be a critical factor involved that is stated in your question, community. I theorized about different possibillities in a study, available on the Internet, ‘Het voorzienbare monopolie’, and hypothesized that in a ‘free market’ economy these kind of networks represent value for the end-users, but not for the current providers. Which translates not only into a feasible technical and business model but at the same time into the possibillity – or lack thereof -to organize future users into a collective, a community of users which translates into ample security for a third part investor. Maria points this out as well in her comments, and I think she is absolutely right. Another possibillity might be collective funding, a cooperation, but this will run against the ‘zeitgeist’, or some kind of direct or indirect state funding or public interest funders, which seem to happen in Cleveland. Since you have direct experience about living in Amsterdam, you probably know that even asking the direction over there to say, central station, leaves you with as many directions and discussions as bystanders asked :-), while in Zeewolde you probably will always get one right answer, and from there we might have a clue for your question. I think this is where free market economy hits the road of public interest. Even though the investment is slightly higher (10 to 30 percent) in rural area’s. As an aside, I like to point out that with fiber networks, it’s not about bandwith or the lack thereof. The idea is to create a network where costs are hardly related to speed and network speed is allways higher than the sum of the connected devices, ‘there is allways enough bandwith’. This will allow to concentrate on the application side of networks. Of course we have some way, in some instances a long way, to go, but the basic idea is there anyway.

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  12. Right on Kevin – and well put Esme.

    One of the original things that struck me about our plans in Cleveland was “who the hell is serving up ANYTHING over 5mbps? Let alone 10mbps?”

    I’ve noticed services like YouTube and Hulu choking on Friday and Saturday nights – during peek service hours. So what exactly is it that we’re expecting to do with 1,000 mbps?

    Let me point out to you, Esme, Om and others – there’s something really smart that Lev and the OneCommunity folks have done here in Cleveland. Over the past 3-4 years they’ve been systematically installing fiber into EVERY school, senior citizen’s home community center – basically anyplace that would take them.

    Lev calls these installations “middle mile anchor institutions” – a pragmatic hub for getting 1,000 mbps connectivity out into every neighborhood in Cleveland. These hubs can (obviously) then be turned into wifi or wimax hubs or used to string glass on into resident’s homes or apartments. What this creates is a ‘digital city’ ready for ALL the residents – not just some in the outlying rural areas or suburbs (as Esme points out is going on in Holland.)

    The trick of this forward thinking stuff is to solve several problems at the same time. Sure it may be overkill for today – but Case Western is a ‘research institution’ and that’s what we’re doing.

    Did you know that between 1880 and 1920 this area of the country was the world’s leading center for innovation? Have you ever heard of Freenet?

    So Lev and OneCommunity are continuing in the proud tradition of forward thinking innovators – building infrastructure – for tomorrow.

    In Cleveland we’ll be able to:
    – study just what DO you do with all this bandwidth?
    – connect to Google’s other fiber efforts
    – install permanent connectivity into neighborhoods which cannot afford connectivity
    – create a test lab, petri dish and showcase for 21st century entrepreneurism
    – be ready for the next 30 years

    Come visit us to check out how to build a Digital City in Cleveland. Did I mention the house prices or pierogies?

    Or LeBron?

    And if I have anything to do with it – I’ll make sure that everything we do is open, and provides an open standards platform approach – which allows all players an equal playing field.

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  13. @Esme, to answer your last question. It has to do with complex and expensive (licenses & rules) excavation work that has to be done from the fiber rings to the last mile of every home. Its more easier to do the above in a remote and small village like Zeewolde than as per your example in the old city center of Amsterdam.

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    1. which is exactly why the OneCommunity ‘middle-level’ hub strategy makes so much sense.

      First focus on wiring up all major schools, public buildings, senior centers, etc. – and THEN run the ‘so-called’ final mile.

      Reduce risk, get community buy in along the way, guarantee coverage. Before you know it – everyone will have 1G.

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      1. I would go further and say that new wireless broadband technology with higher speed is the future for the mid long term. For now the limited WiMAX is a good alternative for the last mile connectivity.

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  14. And in other news Broadband Britain thinks 2mb should be enough.

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  15. I’m stuck on 6/1 Mbps.

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  16. My provider sold me about two years ago on getting “up to 8MBps”. Of course when I signed on and tested it over the last two years I am lucky if I ever get up to 1.16 MBps download speed. I should send my provider an email linking to this article and ask when I can expect to get 1 GBps but then I would probably give my provider a heart attack.

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  17. Netcologne here in Germany is building out their Cologne Fibre network and the nice thing is that 100Mbit/s down for 25 EURs. I presume they are limiting at 100Mbit/s as it is faster than anything else anyway and 25 EURs is fully competitive in price. They are slowly building it out.

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  18. [...] In the Netherlands, 1 Gbps Broadband Will Soon Be Everywhere Google last week announced Google Fiber, an experimental fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that the company plans to build and use to connect between 20,000 and 200,000 homes. And while we wait for that network to take shape, Reggefiber of the Netherlands is moving ahead and is upgrading its network to 1 Gbps. (Related post: So Where Else in the World Can You Get 1 Gbps to the Home?) [...]

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  19. The smaller the country the easier it becomes to increase bandwidth.

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  20. To follow up on Esme’s question:

    Part of the decision to provide small communities in the Netherlands with FttH before urban areas is in fact the “community factor” in itself. Reggefiber requests “embassadors” to start a soocial movement. The concept is that the community spirit will drive a high percentage of the community to sign up for fiber subscriptions. With a guaranteed high subscription rate, the risk of this huge investment decreases.
    Aside from minimizing infrastructural difficulties during the roll-out, it has been an important factor during the last two years.

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  21. [...] How can Reggefiber do this? The company has seen steep declines in the price of equipment — from modems to central office stuff — which has allowed it to offer this service. (Gigaom) [...]

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  22. [...] which would serve between 50,000 and 500,000, and have outlined other areas of the world that have gigabit connections [...]

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