Prague, April 11th - The volume of data transmitted over the internet has been growing continuously but the infrastructure in Czech villages, towns and cities is not prepared for this development and its deployment is extremely slow due to complicated legislation and attitude of many municipalities. Yet the digitisation of the Czech Republic, which is an element of the Czech government’s strategy, depends on the “last mile” – if fast, high-quality internet access is not made available to users, the system will not work. It is therefore now high time that local government leaders support the deployment of fast internet, which is a new priority on a par with provision of electricity, gas and the sewage system. Otherwise, there is a risk that the Czech Republic will remain Europe’s assembly plant because it will not have technological capacity for the development of competitive companies.
These are the conclusions of a study entitled Digitisation: Connectivity of Regions, with the subtitle How to develop fast and stable internet in the villages, towns and cities of the Czech Republic?, which was presented today by the CEVRO Institute. The study shows that fast internet access is now becoming an infrastructure service that is equally as important as electricity, water, gas and sewage systems. “The world is increasingly going online; by 2022, the volume of transmitted data will have increased at least threefold as compared with 2017. Digital TV has been developing, more and more devices are connected in households – not only computers and mobile devices, but also kitchen appliances and other smart household components. An ever growing number of people work from home, where they need to download large volumes of data from company servers. The operation and development of a number of small and medium-sized companies are dependent on fast internet,” says Petr Koblovský, economist at the CEVRO Institute and head of the team of authors who produced the study. According to him, there is a risk that, without good quality digital infrastructure, the Czech Republic will cease to be a competitive country for technology investors as well as local companies and start-ups within several years, which could severely damage the Czech economy.
According to Koblovský, the state of internet access in Czech villages, towns and cities does not meet the growing demand. According to the latest survey conducted by Kantar for the purposes of the study, only 15% of customers, mainly in the largest cities, use fibre-optic internet, which offers sufficient speed and capacity. However, this will no longer be sufficient in the next several years. Municipalities that will not actively endeavour to have fibre-optic internet deployed will start to lag behind, as if, for example, they had refused the introduction of the railway a century ago.
Fibre-optic internet in the Czech Republic is hindered by obstacles
Running between cities, countries and continents, fibre-optic networks are today the backbone of the internet. Currently, however, fibre-optic cables usually do not extend from this backbone to end users, who are most often connected via slower and less reliable types of connection. In addition to the legacy of the former fixed-line network monopoly held by SPT Telekom, the main reason for this is the fact that the rollout of fibre-optic networks in villages, towns and cities is complicated. “The entire rollout process involves a large administrative burden and, unfortunately, municipalities do not perceive it as a priority. Therefore, fast access is currently unavailable to a large number of users despite a number of companies striving to build fibre-optic networks as quickly as possible. Billions of crowns have been earmarked for the rollout of fibre-optic networks, but these funds cannot be used. As in the case of other technical innovations, the laying of fibre-optic cables is subject to a huge number of various regulations,” explains Koblovský. This is also confirmed by Juraj Bóna, Commercial Division CZ Director (T-Mobile): “The most difficult part of the rollout of fibre-optic networks is, unfortunately, the very first one – obtaining permits. Czech building law is very complicated and, on average, around 70 different documents and permits need to be obtained, which disproportionately extends the entire rollout process to up to 500 days. This naturally makes the total cost of the rollout extremely high.” This information is also confirmed by the position of the Czech Republic in the OECD’s ranking of countries in terms of the speed of the building permit process, in which the Czech Country ranks 139th out of 170 countries.
At the same time, the cooperation of municipalities is essential; unfortunately, their representatives often do not perceive fast internet access as a priority. In the survey conducted by Kantar, people clearly say, on one hand, that local government leaders should take part in ensuring high-quality internet access. On the other hand, most people do not know whether their municipality is taking any steps in this respect or they are of the opinion that their municipality is passive in this area. “Unfortunately, the current situation is such that we have funds available for the rollout of fibre-optic networks, but it can be very difficult to use them directly for the rollout. Simplification of the process of obtaining building permits and better cooperation of the state and local governments are the basic prerequisites for faster expansion of fibre-optic networks,” adds Bóna.
How can municipalities help?
The key is to not reject dialogue – investors will be happy to explain what the benefits of the rollout of fibre-optic networks and their extension up to buildings are and will be. Additionally, it would help to consider the possibilities of building a fibre-optic network without the necessity of excavation works – fibre-optic cables can be laid next to as gas, electricity and sewer lines or suspended above ground, and it is possible to use existing collectors, hot water heating or cable ducts. Using these options makes the rollout of fibre-optic networks significantly faster and cheaper.
Municipalities can support the rollout of fibre-optic networks by reducing, in the public interest, the price of easements or even set a zero rate for them – similarly as they do in the case of construction of gas-distribution and sewage systems. Equally, municipalities can waive fees for land take. High fees often mean that the cost of construction of one connection is increased by several times and such investment then does not pay off and people will be left without high-quality internet access. A similar issue involves the conditions in relation to pavements, which are imposed by the municipalities in the case of laying cable. With new pavements, full renovation is a matter of course. With older pavements, they often try to obtain new pavements at the expense of the provider – and people are again often left without internet access. Municipal representatives can also speed up the building permit process as such by engaging with the competent building office.
What fibre-optic internet is
Fibre-optic internet involves access by means of a cable in which data is transmitted via light conducted through the optical fibre. This enables super-fast transmission over long distances with small losses. Moreover, such access is very stable, reliable and fast (in the case of the 10 GPON alternative used by TMCZ, download speeds can be up to 8 Gbps). Providers can thus offer transmission speeds that are faster by several orders of magnitude than access by means of metallic cables or microwave antennas (WiFi). Since the number of devices connected in households and companies has been increasing extensively, as have the different methods of using the internet, demands on the volume of transmitted data will grow significantly in the near future. Fibre-optic access will be a necessity basically everywhere and for everyone. In view of the government’s objective of digitisation of the Czech Republic, fibre-optic technology is basically the only technology that can offer sufficiently high-quality, fast and secure internet access in the coming years.
T-Mobile Czech Republic, a member of the international telecommunications group Deutsche Telekom, has almost 6.2 million customers, the number-one operator in the Czech market. T-Mobile is an integrated operator: in addition to telecommunications services, it offers comprehensive ICT solutions not only for companies, but also for other organizations and individuals. It provides outstanding services in the high-speed network, which was proved repeatedly by benchmark testing performed by umlaut (former P3) with Best-in-Test seal.
T-Mobile Czech Republic places emphasis on taking a responsible approach to the environment and society. It adheres to fair business practices, helps beneficial applications and services to see the light of day, supports non-profit organizations, small businesses and individuals, and lends a helping hand whenever crisis situations arise. The company’s employees serve as volunteers in many places across the entire Czech Republic.
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