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Adtran brings US community broadband framework to Europe

Broadband equipment supplier Adtran launches its Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives programme in Europe to support the EC’s gigabit ambitions

Next-generation broadband equipment supplier Adtran has extended its Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives (ECCL) programme into Europe to support the European Commission’s (EC’s) Gigabit Society initiative.

ECCL has been running in the US for some years, and is designed to help communication service providers (CSPs) drive deployment of ultrafast broadband services – using fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), G.fast and very high bit rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) vectoring solutions – and foster economic development in both rural and underserved urban communities.

It is designed to serve as a model for CSPs that want to take advantage of best practice, understand market impact and forge new partnerships to roll out new services effectively and drive adoption.

“Communities, network operators and equipment suppliers must work together if the European Commission’s vision of a Digital Single Market is to become a reality,” said Tony Shortall, director at comms consultancy Telage and a former economic adviser to the European Commission.

“Ultrafast broadband connections will be the linchpin of a globally connected, data-driven economy across Europe and the world. Adtran has demonstrated its ability to help operators make a positive and long-term impact on their respective communities and I would expect them to play a larger role as the European market develops.”

A recent survey of CSPs using the ECCL framework in the US found that the key community segments that adopted ultrafast services were schools, healthcare and residential. It also discovered that the drivers for deploying ultrafast services were shifting, with only 30% of CSPs citing economic growth as a primary driver two years ago, compared with more than 60% this year.

Unsurprisingly, respondents also said that once gigabit broadband hit rural communities, they saw an uptick in sales of Wi-Fi equipment, smart home and internet of things (IoT) devices, and increased use of over-the-top (OTT) services such as Netflix or WhatsApp.

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Adtran said that given the EC’s focus on connecting schools and public services as a means to push ultrafast services out into underserved areas, Europe could benefit from the ECCL. Over the past two years, the programme has worked with 350 communities in the US, engaging both incumbent and local suppliers, and even utility firms and land developers.

The scheme has had a marked effect in both small towns, such as Dayton, Oregon, where it is supporting small local businesses and offering new opportunities to the town’s schoolchildren, and cities such as Detroit, Michigan, where it is helping to regenerate one of the US’s most troubled urban areas.

In the UK, Manchester-based Telcom Networks, which has deployed FTTP technology to deliver ultrafast services in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow, will be one of the first to sign up to the programme.

“Gigabit broadband is a huge benefit to society, attracting professionals to live and work in newly developed properties and acting as a catalyst to entrepreneurship,” said Telcom CEO Shaun Gibson.

“We have enshrined a ‘community-first’ approach in our business through a scheme called Telcom Unity, which delivers free public Wi-Fi to local areas, and we even subsidise the cost of local business connections to worthy public and non-profit organisations,” he added.

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