Interview with Willem Brinkert
What is the project about?
After the municipalities in the region of Braunau in Austria had been neglected by traditional incumbents, regioHelp/BG Communications was founded with the aim to serve the unserved and took it upon themselves to build full-cover FTTH, Open Access networks in and for the people in those municipalities.
regioHelp/BG Communications initially built a network for 900 subscribers in Munderfing. This inspired the neighboring municipalities, who saw its social impact and how it transformed Munderfing and motivated them to do the same.
regioHelp/BG Communications creates genuine partnerships with the municipalities in the region (who usually have no money or funding to invest in a fiber network), and everybody really wants to have the network deployed for the benefit of their communities.
While regioHelp/BG Communications brings planning, construction knowledge, and funding to the table, the municipalities collaborate by simplifying the permitting process. They also have existing contact channels with future customers/subscribers and are therefore responsible for the marketing of the network, trying to generate high take-up rates.
After a very successful pilot project in the first municipality, the second larger-scale project was initiated and is currently under construction. More than 40 municipalities joined in, leading to scale it internationally in Germany and Switzerland. With close to 1 million homes, with an average take-up rate of 65-75%, the value for the communities is clearly visible – everyone can be connected, and no one is left behind!
What is innovative about your project and how have you served your customers?
The effortlessness in reaching goals and pursuing projects shows that regioHelp/BG Communications is on the right track to bringing quality of life to rural areas in terms of telecommunications and connecting people.
We provide a full-cover network serving all of the people living in the region of Braunau. Not only is the network being built but it will eventually be handed over to the public to support the communities. While it’s still being developed, financed, and operated, the network already provides funding for the Red Cross and fire departments in the region: They receive 50 cents per active contract per month, which is a great contribution towards the community and its health and safety initiatives.
This gives the organizations that are both built and reliant on volunteer work the opportunity to get involved with their communities e.g. in financing youth work at the fire brigade.
All projects have a long-term perspective: after 40 years the municipalities take over the network from equity investors and are then able to monetize their network for the community.
Our target group is exclusively the public at the municipality level, representing and supporting the local communities. All participating municipalities are a part of the regioHelp cooperative.
regioHelp/BG Communication, COS Systems, and Nokia work closely together in a partnership to connect people. All partners believe that “affordable, high-speed internet access for everyone will bridge the digital divide and contribute to a more accessible and equal society.”
In this partnership, regioHelp/BG Communication is responsible for the planning and construction of the project, COS Systems provides the BSS/OSS COS (zero-touch automation software) and has an extensive background and a lot of experience in running open-access networks.
Nokia is not just a vendor – but an active partner of regioHelp/BG Communications, supporting the region with the connectivity needed to achieve its goals.
COS has a framework contract with BG Communications/regio help and wants to support them in distributing their concept to the world.
In our first pilot project, already in the fiber deployment after the first homes were connected and live with a take rate of 80%, the industry in Munderfing began to flourish! New businesses were started and attracted; including the opening of a co-working and seminar house for single entrepreneurs. Moreover, several German subsidiaries settled in Munderfing as it could offer fiber!
Munderfing has become the most attractive area in Braunau, and currently, there are more than 200 individuals and families on the waiting list for an apartment. Before the fiber network was deployed, Munderfing had 900 workplaces to offer; today there are over 3000.