Nuenen fibre to the home – the future?bsg
Recently a colleague and I joined a UK delegation to visit a fibre to the home network built in the town of Nuenen in the Netherlands by a broadband cooperative. The network has connected almost the entire town of 8,500 households, and provides a 100mbps service. Close to 90% of the households are signed up and paying for the service. A full report on the project will soon be available on the BSG website (www.broadbanduk.org), but for now I’d like to talk about what Nuenen means for the UK.
Although it is unlikely that the Nuenen model can be replicated in the UK (as it involved a significant government subsidy and made use of the affluent, technology-literate make-up of Nuenen’s population), Nuenen could still have a significant impact in the UK as a source of inspiration to other towns and cities with similar aims.
On our visit were a delegation from Walsall, along with representatives from Wolverhampton, Ashford and Anglia. It is unlikely that any of these areas will have the same characteristics that allowed the Nuenen project to flourish. But some on the trip will have begun to think about what a fibre network could do for their community, both socially and economically. Residents and local businesses have begun to use the network in a variety of ways that begin to highlight the economic and social benefits that such an NGA network can bring. Those behind the Nuenen project demonstrate how, with strong local leadership, such a project can be possible.
Nuenen has received six such delegations to date, four of which are from the UK. According to them, they could receive a delegation a week if they had the time, such is the interest in the project. In the UK we have the Digital Region project in South Yorkshire, which is local authority led. Will we see community-led NGA projects in the UK? Time will tell, but Nuenen is certainly food for thought.
Peter Shearman, Policy Manager, BSG