Also in today's roundup: Openreach taps non-Chinese equipment vendors to build out its network; the Swiss to get a $3.1B helping of fiber through a new JV; and SiFi Networks secures more capital from Smart City Infrastructure Fund to pursue FiberCity builds in the US.
US- and UK-imposed restrictions on Huawei have opened the door for non-Chinese vendors of network equipment to get a boost in business.
As Iain Morris writes on Light Reading, Openreach has just tapped US company Adtran to supply equipment for its massive UK fiber build, in addition to previously announced partner Nokia. With a plan to reach 20 million homes by mid-to-late 2020s, this is great news for Adtran and Nokia and less great news for Huawei, which was previously the project's largest supplier. Despite general upheaval from COVID-19, Morris writes that Openreach is making good progress with its build, currently reaching 32,000 homes per week, up from 26,000 at the start of the year.
In other fibrous news, Switzerland's Swisscom gets surprise from Sunrise and Salt!
Sorry... That is to say, competing operators to market leader Swisscom Sunrise and Salt have joined forces to form Swiss Open Fiber: a joint venture (JV) aimed at building out FTTH across Switzerland. As Anne Morris writes on Light Reading of the CHF3 billion (US$3.1 billion) plan, the goal seems to be twofold: to expand fiber across Switzerland and to avoid a Swisscom monopoly. "The former incumbent said in February 2020 that it aimed to double its FTTH coverage by 2025," writes Morris. "Salt and Sunrise said of the total 5 million homes passed in Switzerland, fewer than half have access to FTTH. Around a third of the country is said to be covered with FTTH, but with significant discrepancies at the local level. The mid-term goal is to improve Switzerland's FTTH penetration rate from around 30% to over 70%."
A global investment fund deemed the Smart City Infrastructure Fund has selected SiFi Networks to receive an additional $450 million in capital to improve access to high-speed Internet in the US. This follows an initial $75 million investment from the fund, helmed by APG and Whitehelm Capital, in 2019.
SiFi builds what it calls FiberCity networks, available for use by ISPs and other high-speed broadband service providers, as well as 4G/5G carriers and IoT applications. In a press release this week announcing the latest investment, SiFi said of its plans that it "is already installing a FiberCity network in Fullerton, California serving over 50,000 homes and businesses, is shortly commencing several other deployments in similar sized cities across the USA and will be working in over 20 cities within the next 12 months."
In a "Choose Your Fighter" game where the choices are Elon Musk and Ajit Pai, I'd personally choose to quit the game. Nevertheless, the two found themselves on either side of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund discussion this week as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed rules that would reclassify satellite providers as high-latency and therefore limit SpaceX's ability to apply for funding for the company's Starlink broadband network. While CEO Elon Musk claims that Starlink will indeed be able to deliver low latencies, the FCC remains skeptical. As it stated in draft rules : "[W]e do not find it prudent to authorize bidding for performance tier/latency/technology combinations that lack a proven track record that deployment at the speeds and latencies we expect will actually occur."
The FCC's proposed rules are due to be voted on in June, with the fund's allocated $16 billion in subsidies to be distributed beginning October 29.
It faces an uphill climb, but Viasat is exploring a plan to build 300 low-earth orbit satellites that could deliver low-latency broadband service and qualify for the US Rural Digital Opportunities Fund.
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