Fibre backhaul becomes single biggest cost element, says new WIOCC CEO


Last week the Open Access to Fibre Conference took place in Malawi. Anders Comstedt attended and reports on some of the issues raised.

Open access or shared telecom infrastructure has come a long ways in several countries as an idea but for some laggards, like Zambia , it just has not been accepted.

Cross border connectivity is still a major problem. Regulations and policy making still have some way to go to relax and enable cross border links.

SEACOM and EASSy, the later in the form of WIOCC (the SPV part of EASSy) were there to indicate their latest RFS dates; SEACOM June 2009 and EASSy June 2010.

TEAMS had no representative at the Conference as key officers where in Fujairah for some final talks. Both SEACOM and WIOCC are now preoccupied with filling the pipes they are in the process of building. Chris Wood, the recently appointed CEO of WIOCC, expected backhaul availability and costs to be the major discussion ahead. "We will see aggressive pricing on sea cables. Now backhaul becomes the single biggest cost element for many."

So the problem seems now to be shifting. Terrestrial backhaul fibre to the landings was also debated much in other sessions. Lots of initiatives were considered and some are even underway. Several participants pointed out the need for reasonable conditions on the few transmission cables available, and avoiding allowing them to become new “choke points” holding back ICTdevelopment.

The grand old man of open access, Professor Bjorn Pehrson, argued in the Conference’s final statement for any grant money from donors to go into putting fibre on power lines with conditions that prevent prohibitive pricing and instead make the spare fibres available at cost to all ICT players, to stimulate the market.