Global Head Infrastructure Project Finance
September 2021 The pandemic has had a profound impact on our work and lives. At the same time, however, the coronavirus has shown us how important the accelerated expansion of fast data lines is for the future of the European economy. Hopes are pinned primarily on fiber-optic technology. It is the subject of the FTTH Conference 2021 – the world’s largest fiber-optics event.
“Full fiber for a digital and sustainable Europe” is the motto of the two-day conference, which is being held virtually again this year. However, this is unlikely to impair the participation and intense debate between the speakers and visitors. There is a lot to talk about. There is certainly a lot of pride in what has been achieved. Without the existing fast networks, the European economy would not have come through the pandemic so well, and millions of people forced overnight to work from home would not have been able to work at all.
At the same time, however, the pandemic also shows that there is still a lot to be done in terms of broadband expansion and data speed. This is confirmed, for example, by “The Future of Work: Analyzing Global Broadband Trends”, a study conducted by the Fiber Council Global Alliance (FCGA) in July of this year. The FCGA brings together the six regional FTTH Councils from North America, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. The FTTH Council Europe is organizing this major conference in September.
Key findings of the study: For 52 percent of the the study participants, the bandwidth (or lack of bandwidth) of their own Internet connection at home was the main obstacle when working from home. This applies to both downloading and uploading data. In the private sector alone, the FTTH Council Europe estimates that a fiber-optic connection can speed up downloads or uploads by a factor of ten compared to a conventional ADSL connection.
According to the study, the desire to work from home occasionally or even permanently even after the pandemic has passed has increased noticeably. Were it not for the technical hurdles, that is. This also applies especially to other applications such as telemedicine, which have been expanding rapidly since the spring of 2020 and are only being held back by the lack of information highways.
The virtual FTTH Conference 2021 is all about these hurdles and how to overcome them with the help of fiber to the home. Vincent Garnier, Director General of the FTTH Council Europe, is looking forward to 20 workshops with experts, twelve conference sessions and keynote speeches, around 2,500 visitors from 1,000 companies, and more than 150 fiber-optic experts at C level from industry, the service sector and the banking world.
Hamburg Commercial Bank has played an active role at the fair for years. On the second day of the event, Inka Klinger, Global Head of Infrastructure at HCOB, will moderate a high-level panel on “What drives the current FTTH investment surge?”
HCOB was one of the first banks to finance fiber-optic projects in Europe and specializes in supporting companies on their growth path in this sector. The bank was investing in fiber-optic expansion long before the coronavirus. “This is now paying off. Our expertise is valued throughout Europe,” explains Inka Klinger One of Hamburg Commercial Bank’s latest accomplishments in the fiber-optic market occurred in the Iberian Peninsula in early summer 2021: On behalf of its long-standing client dstelecom, the bank structured the expansion financing that will enable Portugal’s leading private open-access fiber network operator to provide a total of one million connections.