Spain Preps $500M Broadband Net

Keynoters at LR conference to describe monster municipal broadband project in Catalonia

June 22, 2005

3 Min Read
Spain Preps $500M Broadband Net

Details of one of the world's largest municipal broadband networks are scheduled to be unveiled at a Light Reading Live conference on Carrier-Class Ethernet in Barcelona, on Thursday, June 30.

The project (not the conference) has a budget of €488 million (US$542 million) and aims to encourage competition among service providers by giving them equal access to low-cost broadband infrastructure, say those familiar with what's involved.

Smaller, single-city municipal schemes such as this have already stirred up controversy elsewhere in Europe and North America, on the grounds that they subsidize competition against incumbent carriers and cable TV operators (see Supremes Mull Municipal Broadband, Grass Roots Fiber Booms, and FTTH Council Applauds Supremes).

The project being planned by the Generalitat de Catalunya (the Government of Catalonia) and Localret (a consortium of 782 municipalities) is a whopper. It aims to cover multiple cities throughout the entire province of Catalonia and will be based on multiple fiber optic rings linked by reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs), together with other networking equipment.

Plans for the state-of-the-art broadband network will be presented at the Light Reading Live conference in Barcelona on Thursday, June 30, in a keynote address by two of the project's masterminds:

  • Josuè Sallent, strategic projects coordinator of the Catalan Government's Telecommunications and Information Technologies Center

  • Sergi Figuerola, Network Technologies Cluster Coordinator of the i2CAT Foundation, a not-for-profit agency that promotes technology developments in Catalonia, and one of the participants in the project.

To hear Sallent and Figuerola spill the habas on their project, register for the Light Reading Live Barcelona conference by clicking on this link.

Figuerola says the project team intends to talk to service providers likely to use the infrastructure, in order to identify the wholesale services they require before formulating plans. Target customers are likely to include:

The idea is to offer more than just dark fiber or wavelength services, as some early municipal operators, such as Sweden's Stokab, have done. This could include Ethernet services over MPLS and SDH infrastructure, TDM services such as E1 leased lines, and pretty much anything wholesale customers want.

Once the project team have got input from potential customers, a pilot network will be installed by early 2006, according to Figuerola. Requests for proposals for the production network will go out next year. He estimates that digging trenches and installing fiber will cost about €200 million ($222 million). The goal is to have the whole network operational within four years.

The Catalan government believes its project can avoid the legal challenges that some other municipal networks have faced in Europe, by only offering wholesale services. A ruling from the European Commission in May on plans for a municipal network in France appears to apply to this project as well (see EC OKs B'band Funding).

Telefónica had not responded to requests for comment at press time.

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading

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