COS Systems is ramping up after summer and we are happy to have strengthened the team with two more rock stars.

Boris Ruiz started in our Product Development team in August. He is a Swedish-American born in Florida, moving in between Miami and Puerto Rico. From an early age he developed an interest in software, working on hobby projects in his free time such as apps, games, & websites. Being an adventurous person by nature and not afraid to try and learn new things, he recently decided to move to Sweden to see how life is like here. At COS we were lucky to snatch this amazing developer before any of the other IT companies in our city did. Boris is currently mainly working on improvements to our COS Service Zones product. With our focus on the US market it’s an obvious plus his native tongue is English, but we are worried he will soon forget it based on the speed at which he is picking up Swedish!

Simon Fransson has just done his first week on our QA team. Simon is from outside of Umeå but now has walking distance to our office – we’re all jealous. The last three years Simon spent at A3, which is one of Sweden’s largest service providers, active on more than 150 Open Access networks nationwide. Since most of these networks are operated using our COS Business Engine platform he already knows the ins and outs of it. It’s a great resource to have him on the team with the service provider perspective he brings when testing our products making sure they meet our ambitious quality standards. When Simon is not working or at the gym there’s a great chance he is gaming, something he’s been doing almost before he could walk. You do not want to meet this guy online in Counter Strike!

We’re excited to have them on our team and know they will both contribute greatly to our customers’ success.

Late 2013 we released the first version of our demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones. Our primary focus was to help those building out fiber in the US get enough customers signed up so that they could move forward with their projects with lower risk of failure. Since then our platform has been used in over 100 projects in the US alone. What have we learned so far? Well, a lot, and some of it we will share with you in this article.

COS System’s founders started building software for the fiber network operators in Sweden 20 years ago. At this time the saying “build it and they will come” was still the most common strategy (if you can call that a strategy?) behind fiber buildouts. The thinking was that a new technology, literally lightyears better than what was in place before (in Sweden primarily ADSL and traditional dial-up modems), would make customers switch over without hesitation. It soon proved though that it wasn’t that easy. Studies have shown that over time the fiber take-rates tend to reach over 70 percent, but this often took 10 years or more. Since large parts of Sweden, like the US, is rural, a more cautious method of building fiber was starting to be used. When approaching a new area you tried to get engaged with the residents through meetings, information and even door-to-door campaigns. You defined their neighborhood boundaries and explained that they needed to come together and show that enough of them were willing to sign up before the fiber build-out could start. It was generally done with pen and paper and with the help of grassroots in the neighborhoods who volunteered in rallying their neighbors. Often these grassroots were those running a home business and those with kids who made the phone line busy every night and the phone bill break the family budget. This method was very effective in avoiding the worst potholes where low take-rates would make the network builder loose money for years, but it was a demanding administrative task.  

In 2012, when COS Systems first started to look at what the fiber industry looked like in the US, we decided to build a platform to make this method digital and to the largest extent automated. We already had a BSS/OSS (Business and Operations Support System), but it was too early to sell that platform, because the networks had to be built first! The good thing was that we could use a lot of the experience we had from building that platform and a large portion of the core code.

We built the product around a couple of major concepts. First we needed a way to manage people’s expectations and the level of commitment asked for. The result was the two first phases a neighborhood zone could be in; Survey and Signup (Zones are now often referred to as “fiberhoods” – more on that later). In the Survey phase people are asked to take a non-committing survey asking questions about the performance of their current Internet connection and of course how likely they are to sign up to the new network potentially being built. If the take-rate target is reached in Survey phase, the zone can be moved to the next phase which is the Signup phase. This phase is suitable to use if you know you will be able to start building the network in the near future if the take-rate targets are met. The customers would agree to the terms of the connection to the network and later we also added functionality to gather deposits.

From our customers building fiber we’ve gotten to know that the most hectic phase is still the construction phase since the subscribers typically have a lot of questions at this stage. They want to know when the installation will happen, how it will affect their house, their lawn, etc. The zone phase Construction is therefore important in order to be proactive in spreading information to the subscribers in those zones. The last phase is Connected and in this phase you will direct the subscribers already connected to your Marketplace to sign up for services or sign up laggards who didn’t sign up before.

Still, the most important feature is probably the Champion functionality. This is a way to automate the identification, signup and management of the local grassroots. On the COS Service Zones platform there is an entire program relating to the Champions. They apply to become your champions on the website, you approve them manually after checking their willingness to really help out. All champions will get a referral code and can thereafter go out and recruit their neighbors to the network.

Late 2013, the first version of the software was ready for launch. Imagine our surprise when during developing the platform, Google Fiber had launched in it’s first city, Kansas City, using a methodology similar to ours but without the first Survey phase. What we called zones, they called Fiberhoods and we got a much easier way of communicating what our platform did! The methodology even got its own term; Demand Aggregation.

So, that was the background, now what about the learnings from over 100 demand aggregation projects so far in the US?

First, a big misconception has to be made clear. The methodology was not, unlike many beliefs, designed to help private providers cherry pick the richest and most profitable neighborhoods, to leave the rest of the city unserved. Where we come from the networks we work with are generally community owned Open Access Networks (You can read more about open access here). In this model the fiber infrastructure is treated as a city owned utility that is open for any provider to deliver services on. The goal is to build fiber to everyone, just as with electricity and water. But I believe I speak for any taxpayer in the world when I say that you would expect your politicians to use the taxes you pay in a responsible and effective way. By building the network first to where high take-rates ensures a positive return on the investment, the cash flow from good neighborhoods can eventually be used to cover cost for further expansion. This means that the neighborhood that potentially could benefit the most might not get it first, but at least they will get it. If just building in random order or only to unserved areas the money might not last long and large parts of the area remain unserved. Use the method to connect all and remember – the biggest benefit is not the revenue generated, but all the benefits access to high-speed internet will bring to the community.

It was hard to choose when it comes to concrete advise we want to share in this post when running a demand aggregation campaign. Please feel free to reach out if you want to discuss more.

  • Don’t make the zones too large. We have found that an ideal size is 50-100 homes. If the number of neighbors you need to convince into signing up is for example 200, it will feel like your effort won’t make a difference. If it says you need 20 more it will feel like it’s within reach and you will be more eager to go out and spread the word.
  • Kick the campaign off with a blast. Even though the platform builds upon word-of-mouth and neighbors talking to each other, you need to make people aware of the project and the COS Service Zones site as a start. If you already send bills to your community (ideal for utilities), include information about the fiber project. Talk to local news, both papers and radio and make them write about the project. Invite people to an information meeting. Those who show up will be the ones most eager to get fiber. Have them sign up at that meeting and convince them to be your champions. They will be your best sales people.
  • Use the community to spread information. In underserved and unserved areas it’s not sure people understand why they would need better internet and some education might be needed. By uploading both marketing and educational information on the COS Service Zones site, you make it available for download and print-out to anyone who wants to share it. This way it will reach more people and you will be able to control the messaging.
  • Use your first buildouts as marketing. We’ve found that in areas where there have not been many options for high speed Internet before, the experience of the first customers is a very good thing to market. Interview your first customers in their homes and let them share their story about how their new service works.
  • Communicate like a pro (or use a pro). Even if building fiber is an incredibly positive thing, there still might be those questioning the project. It might be your competitors who are threatened or just people who think money should be spent on something else than new technology (especially if it’s a municipally funded buildout). You must quickly respond in a professional way to any misconceptions being spread. If you don’t have this competency inhouse you could hire a communications firm to help you with this as well as with marketing.

What we have found over the years is that with the COS Service Zones platform, some smart marketing tactics and good communications, you can really use your entire community as your sales organization and quickly reach remarkable take-rates. In fact, if successful you will be doing much more than just demand aggregation – Perhaps it is time to update the industry term to Demand Generation?

 

For additional information contact:

Isak Finér
CMO & VP North America
COS Systems
+1 (540) 988-3224
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

COS Systems Strengthens US Presence

After many successful years of growth in the US market COS Systems strengthens their presence further by appointing Isak Finer as Vice President for their North American business.

[Blacksburg, VA] COS Systems began its expansion into the US Market six years ago. Since then, more than one hundred North American clients have signed up to the two software platforms COS Service Zones and COS Business Engine. With increasing demand for their products and the growing interest among US communities to build True Open Access networks COS has decided to appoint Isak Finer, the company’s CMO, as Vice President of North America. Finer is now permanently based in Blacksburg, Virginia.

“Breaking into a new market is a big undertaking, especially a market as large and competitive as the United States. With the recent years’ successes and our strong financial performance, we feel it is time to take the next step and start building a team permanently based in the United States,” says Peter Lidstrom, COS Systems CEO.

With large projects on the horizon the timing is now right to invest in a stronger local presence and an organization dedicated to the United States.

“I am very happy about the move to the States. Being closer to our clients and partners makes it easier for us to deliver our very best. I look forward to continue building on existing relationships and adding more companies to our family of fantastic customers,” says Isak Finer, COS Systems CMO and VP North America.

“It is a milestone in the company’s history to appoint a US based Vice President and a receipt of the increasing success we have seen. We are now positioned to take on more customers and larger projects,” concludes Goran Bergling, Charmain of the Board at COS.

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage Open Access networks, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems at www.cossystems.com.

For additional information contact:

Isak Finér
CMO & VP North America
COS Systems
+1 (540) 988-3224
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

ISE EXPO 2019 COS SYSTEMS

Are you a telecom/ICT professional and looking to keep up to date with the latest network technologies and solutions? Then make sure to join us in Fort Worth, Texas next week, September 24-26, 2019 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

ISE EXPO is the ICT industry’s premier educational event for wireline and wireless network transformation. From construction and engineering products to SDN and NFV technologies, we deliver what you need. Discover why network professionals from around the globe attend for engaging seminars, live demo zone, commanding keynotes, hands-on workshops and face-to-face networking.

Get hands on with leading-edge technologies, meet with vendors, and connect with network professionals and telecom thought leaders who are tackling challenges, exploring opportunities and developing innovative solutions for the industry’s massive transformation.

Contact our team before the event to set up a meeting or stop by booth #929.

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage modern broadband networks that support services from one or more providers, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

For additional information contact:

Isak Finér
CMO & VP North America
COS Systems
+1 (540) 988-3224
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

COS Systems AB AAA highest credit worthiness 2019

COS Systems has this year achieved the highest credit rating AAA given by Bisnode. This rating places COS Systems among the top 2.3% of Joint-Stock Companies in Sweden that currently have the AAA rating.

Receiving the AAA rating testifies to COS Systems position globally and indicates that the company is high-performing, trustworthy and reliable to its customers and partners.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement. We are constantly striving to enhance our trust towards our customers and partners globally and are happy to have the AAA rating from Bisnode further acknowledging the stability of our company.” Says Peter Lidstrom, CEO at COS Systems

The AAA rating from Bisnode has been used since 1989 and is today the most well know credit rating system in Sweden. Bisnode derives its information from a number of official and confirmed sources. This information is then analyzed according to 2,400 rules resulting in a value in the rating model. They gather data daily from reliable sources. Read more.

About COS Systems

COS Systems is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage Open Access fiber networks, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

For additional information contact:

Isak Finér
Chief Marketing Officer
COS Systems
+46737 51 99 38
isak.finer@www.cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

NoaNet and COS Systems expand partnership by launching an operator version of COS Service Zones. NoaNet has previously provided cities and public utilities with COS Systems’ demand aggregation platform and support in the project execution. Now NoaNet is set to further help rural communities in Washington get connected to fiber by launching their own COS Service Zones system ready to aggregate demand for fiber in any part of the State.

Gig Harbor, WA – NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network) is a non-profit municipal corporation which operates an extensive open-access fiber back-bone network reaching every corner of Washington State. NoaNet has partnered with COS Systems in the past to provide the demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones to Public Utility and municipal customers. Since then, many communities have reached out to NoaNet asking if they could provide them with a managed demand aggregation solution delivered as a service. NoaNet is now in the process of launching a statewide COSService Zones application that can be leveraged as part of their Community Broadband Solutions program to assist communities in evaluating their need and readiness for municipal broadband deployment.

COS Service Zones is a web-based software platform that allows a community or provider to run a “fiberhood”campaign to learn if there is enough interest in the community to invest in a fiber infrastructure and in which neighborhoods the demand is greatest. Every neighborhood has a “take-rate” target to reach in order to qualify for build-out. The purpose is to involve the community in the process and build a common will to build the new fiber infrastructure. In successful COS ServiceZones campaigns demand grows rapidly as the community engages on the platform, sharing information about the project on social media, and spreading information to their neighbors and friends.

“When NoaNet explained that there were many communities interested in better connectivity but lacking the resources or expertise to run a COS Service Zones campaign themselves, we began thinking how we could best assist NoaNet in helping those communities. We developed the concept of an operator version of COS Service Zones, which allows NoaNet to add smaller communities as separate projects on their singleplatform. Practically, this means each of these communities will have their own section of the NoaNet managed website.” says Bjorn Wannman, Manager Partnerships and Strategic Accounts at COS Systems.

Chris Walker, Telecommunications Director at NoaNet is looking forward to offering this tool to Washington communities on a larger scale then NoaNet was previously able to support. “There are dozens of rural communities in Washington with limited or no access to modern telecom infrastructure. High speed broadband can make a huge impact for job creation, economic growth, high quality healthcare and smart services to increase the quality of life for our rural residents. In many cases, even if community leaders understand the need and want to close the digital inclusion gap, they might lack the resources to do something about it themselves. We’re now prepared to help them understand the options to pursue a telecommunications buildout plan.”

Chris has been with NoaNet through several service expansions and is excited about this new opportunity to help Washington communities help themselves increase their broadband access. He said, “Not only will we help them determine if there is enough demand to move forward and invest in the infrastructure, with our extensive fiber footprint and open access experience we will also be able to offer services in build-out and operations. This package of services will make a huge difference for rural Washington communities”

Claire Ward, Marketing and Communications Manager at NoaNet shares Chris’s excitement for this new opportunity. “NoaNet has been serving Washington state for nearly 20 years by working to bring telecommunications infrastructure to underserved communities. With the experience and knowledge we have within the company paired with the tools offered in the COS Service Zones platform, I’m convinced we can serve many parallel projects across the state and help communities move the dial on their broadband access without spending exorbitant resources many just don’t have, “adds ClaireWard, Marketing and Communications Manager at NoaNet, who has been involved in several previous COS Service Zones projects.

“COS Systems originates from the rural northern parts of Sweden, not much different from rural Washington State.We’ve seen first-hand how crucial it is for remote areas to get access to high speed broadband. In the digital economy traditional boundaries like country and city borders are getting less important. Instead communities lacking the critical broadband infrastructure will inevitably be left behind. All of us at COS are proud to support NoaNet in their mission to connect every corner of Washington state to their state-of-the-art fiber network. Fiber is an essential infrastructure for today’s communities, alongside water, electricity and roads for our modern digital world.” Says Isak Finer, CMO at COS Systems  

About NoaNet

Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is a non-profit wholesale only telecommunications network owner and provider which operates a fiber network spanning thousands of miles throughout the State of Washington. NoaNet engages their mission to serve Washington State by consistently looking for new opportunities to expand in meaningful ways that bridge the digital divide. For additional information, see www.noanet.net.

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage Open Access fiber networks, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

For additional information contact:

Claire Ward
Marketing and Communications Manager
NoaNet
+1 (816) 519-2370
claire.ward@noanet.net
www.noanet.net

Isak Finér
Chief Marketing Officer
COS Systems
+46737 51 99 38
isak.finer@www.cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

Peter Lidström, nuvarande vd på COS Systems, Jörgen Olofsson, tidigare vd på COS och nu innovationschef, Håkan Holmström, tidigare it-chef på Bostaden, Harry Jonsson, mannen bakom Kommunicera, och Johan Nyström, nuvarande it-chef på Bostaden.

In the early days of Swedish municipal fiber networks, they adopted the only model known at that time, copying the incumbent telecom providers in building, operating and providing services on their own networks. Many of them struggled as this was something a municipality was not very well suited to do and the open access model started to gain ground. One of these municipal networks that opened their network up to multiple providers was Bostaden. But as they couldn’t find the operations platform they were looking for they decided to have it built. This was the birth of what today, ten years later, is COS Systems.

[Umea, Sweden] Municipal housing company Bostaden have been providing their tenants with Internet service over their fiber network since 1995. They are the largest property owner in the city of Umea, with half of the city’s 35 000 students living in their properties. Managing a network with mainly students is challenging, since a large portion of the subscribers will move out and new move in every semester, pretty much at the same time. In 2007 they had been struggling long enough themselves delivering the services on the network, without having reached the customer satisfaction and internal efficiency they wished for.

At this time in Sweden the Open Access model was winning ground. Many of the cities who had built their own fiber optic broadband infrastructure were in the same position as Bostaden. They didn’t have the right organization for selling Internet services and dealing with end customers and decided the best way to treat the broadband infrastructure was by layering the business model and have specialized companies being responsible for each layer. Instead of competing with the private providers by selling services themselves they decided to cooperate with them.

The first layer is the physical infrastructure, the actual fiber-optic cables in the ground. This is the layer where most Swedish municipalities focus their efforts, since infrastructure deployment and maintenance are something they are often very experienced in. Many of them also build and maintain electricity, sewer, water and gas networks. If a fiber is cut, the municipality would fix it. The second layer is the operations of the network, bringing in the electronics and lighting up the network. If a network router goes down, the Operator of the network will replace it. The operations company will also manage the relationship with the service providers. The third layer is the services layer. This is where private service providers are invited to deliver their services over the infrastructure managed by the operations company, competing to deliver the highest quality service and customer support at the best terms. If a customer has a problem with their Internet service they would turn to their service provider for help.

With this separation of the very different tasks of managing a fiber network, the entities in each layer can build a highly specialized organization to do their part of the work as efficiently as possible. With an Open Access ecosystem in place, operations companies can operate multiple networks and service providers sell services over multiple networks and thereby become even more efficient by economy of scale. This is why Sweden today has among the lowest prices for broadband in the world.

In the case with Bostaden they decided they would do the first two layers and continue to operate their own network, but they couldn’t find the system they wanted to help them embrace this new business model. With a list of requirements, they turned to local IT consultancy company UDK asking for them to build the system they envisioned. The team that would later spin-off COS Systems as a separate product company began translating the requirements into code.

The system that was developed, now called COS Business Engine, was launched an early morning in June 2008. In the middle of the night every one of the more than 10,000 customers on the network had seen their service go dark as the entire network was shut down and now they all came to the Bostaden branded Marketplace to pick their new service provider having their new service delivered the minute after. It worked flawlessly and the small operations staff at Bostaden could sit back and see orders coming in and being provisioned, hundreds every hour, on their system dashboard. Today Bostaden’s network operates under the name Bostnet, has close to 15,000 active subscribers and is managed by two people, one of them working part time.

“Taking a look in the rear-view mirror it’s pretty amazing to see what has happened since we built the first version of the system. Who could have imagined that the system would be used to operate more than a hundred networks and half a million service locations in every corner of the world. It’s also fascinating how a very high-level vision can still be relevant after such a long time. It proves it must have been pretty spot on,” comments the first two developers of the platform, Peter Sjoblom and Roger Olofsson. They both still work with the system today, Peter as the Solution Architect and Roger doing the most advanced customer support and product testing.

“There’s not much to say really, “ says Bostaden IT Director Johan Nystrom with a laugh. “For ten years now COS Business Engine has been taking care of pretty much everything involved in operating our Open Access Network. It just works.”

 

COS Business Engine 2.0

We are happy to announce COS Business Engine 2.0. Since COS Business Engine was released it has seen many improvements, but with 2.0 we bring major changes to key areas that give our customers and their customers’ greater flexibility and improvements in the overall usability.

“With the increase of Demand in our Cloud Solutions we decided it was time to make some major improvements to COS Business Engine. While we often hear it is an easy to use software from our customers we felt there were features that could be added to help them and their customers in their daily tasks, “says Senior System Architect and COS Systems co-founder Peter Sjöblom.

COS Business Engine is a proven BSS/OSS (Business and Operations Support System) hosted in the cloud, supporting Open Access networks. Subscribers buy their Internet services from an online marketplace, which increases take rates, ARPU, and customer satisfaction, as the network owner can offer 24/7 availability, while reaching maximum operations efficiency, thanks to the extensive use of self-service solutions. The COS Business Engine Cloud solution, that has a selected set of features available in the full Enterprise Edition, is the excellent platform for small or startup networks or operators. When more advanced needs arises it’s a simple task to upgrade to the Enterprise version.

The new update includes an all new network inventory, service provider specific portals, provider ranking, and improvements in Agreements, Ads, File Management, overall usability and much more. Most of the visible improvements have been made to the Marketplace (the customer portal), which now allows the Service Provider to market and sell their services even more efficiently.

For more information on COS Business Engine 2.0 contact:

Isak Finér
Chief Marketing Officer
COS Systems AB
+46-737 51 99 38
isak.finer@www.cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

Top 100 FTTH CompaniesThe 2018 FTTH Top 100 represents the whole fiber-to-the-home ecosystem. Everything from optical fiber and fiber cables to software for planning and managing networks. The top 100 list has become more and more competitive as the industry continues to expand. For the 6th consecutive year, we were recognized by Broadband Communities Magazine as one of the Top 100 companies in the Fiber To The Home Industry in the United States. Our software solutions enable organizations to aggregate demand prior to build-out and network owners to manage their open access fiber networks efficiently.

Read more about the FTTH Top 100 here. 

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage modern broadband networks that support services from one or more providers, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

Last week the Local Swedish Fiber Alliance celebrated their 20th anniversary in my home town Umea. They are a non-profit organizing many of the community networks in Sweden. My strongest take-away from the conference was how important the communities perceived their control of this infrastructure to be, especially now when smart city applications are being introduced across the networks.

“We’ve built an eight file super highway, but up until now we’ve only been riding one of the files – by bike.” This was said by someone from a muni owned network on the conference I attended last week. It was a 700 attendee conference and the 20th anniversary of the Local Swedish Fiber Alliance, a non-profit organization with 155 community networks and 130 vendors as members. It was held in my home town Umea, which is not the largest Swedish city, but one of the first in the world to get high speed broadband. Already in 1994 the local utility started to lay fiber, long before Facebook, Instagram and the dotcom bubble and burst. I remember how most people hardly knew what the Internet was back then! This visionary bet on fiber made the city of Umea and our mainly rural county rank among the highest in the world in terms of average broadband speed and fiber coverage for decades. Since then many cities, towns and counties have followed in their steps and today there are close to 200 muni networks in the country. Already in 2016 80% of Sweden had access to fiber according to PTS (The FCC of Sweden). There is a race now to fiber up the rest of the country and the latest I’ve heard, that number is getting closer to 90%.

The community owned networks are definitely still a driving force in the build-outs that are now taking fiber to small villages deep in the Swedish pine forests and remote coastal areas with summer houses. According to a recent press release by the Local Swedish Fiber Alliance the community networks connected 100 000 homes to fiber during 2017 and the planned construction for 2018 is the same number of households and investments of $500 M USD (Swedish only https://www.ssnf.org/press–opinion/pressmeddelanden/arkiv/2017/kommunala-stadsnat-planerar-att-investera-miljarder-i-bredbandsutbyggnad-under-2018/)

What strikes me is that what the cities envisioned and wanted to achieve by building this infrastructure has been realized. That said, the real revolution is still to happen – likely in only the next few years. The muni networks were mainly built because the city leaders realized that without high speed broadband, both resident and business would move elsewhere. Leaving their digital future in the hands of the incumbent telecom providers would mean too much of a risk the city leaders weren’t willing to take. Critical infrastructure is not something you happily gamble with. On the conference it was very interesting to hear the stories from the smaller communities, often with as few as a couple of thousand households or less. They all agreed their communities would have looked very different if they hadn’t built their networks, with much fewer jobs and many employers that would never have stayed or established their business in their community.

Back to my quote in the beginning of this post. It’s obvious that it’s now the full potential of these networks are beginning to be realized. The consensus seemed to be that “smart city” and “IoT” that has been talked about so much for years, is now starting to happen. With billions of new devices coming online, these fiber super highways will for the first time really be used to their full potential, something that simply would not be possible with legacy technology. It was also made obvious with new vendors on the show, displaying alarms, sensors, smart hubs, etc. There was also a strong consensus among the community networks that their ownership of the networks had never been as important as now. How would it be possible as a community to roll-out smart city services without being in control of the network and where it is deployed. Many smart city services build on ubiquitous access in order to fully deliver the potential benefits, which could never have been guaranteed if profit driven private telecom providers had been setting the agenda for the buildout or what services makes it onto the network and at what price. And the smallest communities would have been the biggest losers.

Another strong take-away was the importance of the business model. The vast majority of the networks in Sweden are operated on a True Open Access model, where a neutral operations company is responsible for deployment and maintenance of the active layer and provisioning of services, while multiple service providers sell services to the subscribers over one single infrastructure, owned by the community. In the early years the communities did their own operations, but over time many have outsourced this to one of the nationwide operations companies that can be found in Sweden. Still, by owning the network and deciding how and where the network is built out, the communities can be in charge of where service is available. With an open access model the retail service providers pay a wholesale fee to the network operator for delivering service over the network. This way the community can influence the price to the subscriber. First, the direct competition between the providers (generally on an Appstore like online marketplace where all providers and services are listed) will drive the prices down. Secondly, the city can choose to lower the wholesale price which due to competition will affect the retail price and thereby increase utilization.

My conclusion is that the decision made by many communities in Sweden to build their own fiber infrastructure has proven to be right. They have made sure their communities have been relevant throughout the digitalization that has taken place over the last decades. But the full value is now to be realized as cities in control of a high-speed broadband infrastructure have the necessary tools to embrace and be leaders in the smart city revolution.

Written by:

Isak Finér
Chief Marketing Officer
COS Systems
+46 737 51 99 38
isak.finer@www.cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com