FTTx goldmine in emerging markets hindered by regulators, incumbents

CommunicAsia Show Daily

There is a significant opportunity for FTTx rollouts in emerging markets, but only if government regulators shape up their policies and stop protecting incumbents.

That’s according to Benoit Felten, chief research officer at Diffraction Analysis, who kicked off the Broadband Access track of the CommunicAsia2015 Summit on Thursday saying that there are already some examples of FTTx success in emerging markets, despite more attention being lavished on mobile as an access technology.

But for many emerging markets, he warned, the overall fixed broadband opportunity is hindered by complex policies, unnecessary regulatory hurdles and discriminatory practices designed to protect the incumbent, such as high transit costs and rights-of-way regulations.

“Rights-of-way regulations are a major barrier in many emerging markets, making it nearly impossible for anyone other the incumbent to deploy fiber,” he said.

“In order to unlock this opportunity, we don’t need public money so much as we need enlightened government involvement.”

The big challenge, of course, is how to convince governments and regulators to back this view - especially if the plan involves public money for facilitating broadband backbone infrastructure.

Felten said that there is growing awareness among policymakers of the potential value of fixed broadband, but enormous hurdles remain in many emerging markets.

“How do you unleash that value in the face of opposition from the incumbents and other parties who see it as threatening their turf? Incumbents in many emerging markets are still locked in monopoly thinking - they don’t realize that what you’re proposing is not taking away their slice of the pie so much as growing the pie.”

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