I last blogged about the poor state of broadband internet here back in February. At that time things were not looking very good. The company (the Communications Infrastructure Fund – CIF) financing the rollout of fibre optic cables had made a start in two Local Authority areas, and had promised to make a start after the summer in two others. However, it was not yet able to commit to further projects with the remaining seven Local Authority areas (including ours), and this had led to tensions between it and those municipalities.
As a result, the municipalities came up with their own plan to lay empty ducts and hire these out to other parties to put their own network cables in. Personally, I viewed this plan as a long shot for a number of reasons, not least the fact that it would need an investment from our Local Authority of €3.6 million – money which they do not have lying around.
Still, back in February, CIF had said it would be able to announce news on further plans in September. Well, here we are, and there does seem to be some good news for a change.
CIF has now made a start on a further two areas, as promised, for a total of 3,500 Ftth (Fibre to the Home) connections in the Aalten and Oost-Gelre municipalities. Households and companies in the countryside there have until the 23rd October to sign up for a connection. If 50% of them do so, then CIF will go ahead and lay the network. If the 50% isn’t reached, there will be no network laid. It really is now or never…
CIF has also announced that their investors have given the green light to financing a further 5,000 Ftth (Fibre to the Home) connections this year, which encompass all of the countryside addresses in our municipality (Oude IJsselstreek), plus parts of a further three (Montferland, Doetinchem and Bronckhorst). Once again, at least 50% of the households and companies in the countryside areas have to sign up for a FttH connection before CIF will go ahead and lay the network. Signing-up will be possible during a six week period which will (I hear) start in November.
We’ve been lobbying for FttH connections here in the outlying areas of Oude IJsselstreek for almost three years now, and at last things seem to be on the point of moving forward. During that time, we’ve built up a group of “ambassadors” who can explain to their neighbours why signing up for FttH makes sense. The cost case is usually the most important aspect to the Dutch(!), and it’s actually straightforward: the monthly cost of an “all-in-one” (internet, telephone and TV) subscription, plus the monthly standing charge for the FttH connection is the same as what they are currently paying for their (slow) internet and telephone connection via ADSL, together with their satellite television subscription (satellite TV is the norm here in the countryside). In our presentations to groups, the English language version of this would be:
Of course, now the real work begins, leading up to November, when we have to get at least 2,500 subscribers (the 50%). Given that here in Oude IJsselstreek there are only 2,441 potential subscribers (according to data we have from the municipality), we are going to have to ramp up efforts beyond our borders and drum up subscribers in the other municipalities. It’s going to be all hands to the pump over the next few months…