Bill Lan
Bill Lan

Call for broadband infrastructure sharing

Economy September 20, 2018 01:00

By KHINE KYAW
THE NATION
YANGON

7,173 Viewed

AS THE construction of a broadband infrastructure costs a fortune, Myanmar should encourage telecom operators and Internet service providers (ISPs) to make collective efforts for broadband investment, said a technical expert at the two-day Myanmar Connect 2018.



Bill Lan, chief national broadband network strategist at Huawei Technologies Co, said on Wednesday that infrastructure sharing would enable telecom operators to drive in the fast lane on the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

“Construction cost is a major issue that makes broadband infrastructure investment less attractive for telcos,” he said.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of broadband investment will be spent on right-of-way (ROW) expenditure, site acquisition and civil engineering.

According to the executive, Thailand sets a good example, thanks to the aerial fibre being deployed on electricity poles, which has saved 80 per cent of construction costs and 40 per cent of deployment time over the past few years.

“In most developing countries, public and private ROW acquisition is an annoying issue for operators who want to deploy or upgrade their broadband infrastructures,” he said.

The process involves multiple management authorities, complicated administrative procedure and diverse acquisition fees – including an administration fee, usage fee, environmental restoration fee – which not only slow down the approval time but also make ROW acquisition more costly, he added.

“Today, the development of broadband infrastructure is facing a variety of challenges, especially in terms of ROW acquisition, high construction cost and the difficulty of home connection,” he said.

At the event, Lan stressed the importance of broadband connection, as ICT reshapes the society and accelerates socio-economic transformation.

“It is difficult for us to imagine a time without broadband network and Internet applications. However, we still have a long way to go to make our digital vision a reality,” he said.

He pointed out that the government should set policies and regulatory measures to remove the “last mile” monopolisation, so that every operator could fairly and easily access and deploy fibre to each household.

Lan recommended three approaches for the government to take to address challenges in digital transformation through collaborative broadband construction. First, operators should be entitled to access public ROW free of charge or by a reasonable one-time expense. Second, infrastructure sharing and joint construction policies should be put in place. Cross-ministerial collaboration to specify the common use of public infrastructure should be well functioning and promote the sharing of existing poles and ducts. Finally, regulation on in-building infrastructure sharing and fibre pre-deployment from the home should be enforced.

He said construction codes and technical standards for the design and deployment of in-building optical cables should be put in place. The exclusive access agreements between property management agencies and service providers should be prohibited to avoid the monopolisation of in-building facilities. Residences that have built optical fibre should be open to all operators at a fee-on-cost basis.

“Regulatory policy is for sure the most important measure to foster the development of broadband infrastructure so the digital society can be function well and the digital economy can quickly take off,” he said.

Lan said the government should treat broadband infrastructure as critical to social and economic prosperity in line with how transport, water and power networks are treated. Public infrastructure construction projects must be laid with fibre optical cables or should provide underground ducts to ensure the installation of broadband infrastructure. A visible infrastructure database should be set up, and the lease price of municipal and utility infrastructure should be regulated to minimise broadband service delivery cost.

He pledged that Huawei would play an “extremely active” role in sharing its knowledge, solutions and experience to face the challenges together with Myanmar.