jueves, 12 de marzo de 2020

Broadband in the Netherlands: the challenge of rural areas

The Netherlands is one of the European Union’s most advanced countries in terms of broadband. It has one of the world’s fastest average broadband speeds, and the highest percentage of broadband penetration per capita in the world: 99% of all households. In recent times, the Netherlands has become a digital hub, consisting of many digital media and internet companies. We analyse it with the collaboration of Candela Arias-Camison López, from UPF.

Especially Amsterdam, its capital city, is home to many data centres, startups, and multinational digital firms. For example, in a Broadband Society and cloud journalism way, the most important Internet exchange point in the world, AMS-IX, is based in Amsterdam. This is supported thanks to an advanced fiber optic network

Furthermore, the Netherlands is ahead in development with regards to Next Generation Access coverage. Next Generation Access coverage comprises the following technologies: FTTH, FTTB, Cable Docsis 3.0, VDSL and other high speed broadband access with at least 30 Mbps download speed. In fact, at the present time, nearly 98% of urban and rural areas in the Netherlands have been covered with Next Generation Access network with a minimum of 30 Mbps download speed

Moreover, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), the Netherlands is ranked 3rd out of the 28 countries in the European Union. This is based on several measurable dimensions which include: connectivity, human capital, use of internet services, integration of digital technology, and digital public services. In the case of the Netherlands, there has been an improvement in all of the previously mentioned DESI dimensions with respect to the prior year. 

In 2018, the so-called Dutch Digitalisation Strategy was implemented. On one hand, it was planned to make it possible for the country to gain advantage from the economic and social opportunities related to the use of recently developed, quick and regularly changing digital technology. While at the same time dealing with issues such as privacy protection and the future of the Dutch labour market. The Dutch Digitalisation Strategy also suggests new plans such as the Accelerating the Digitalisation of SME’s programme. SME stands for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. In the Netherlands there were 442,529 SME's in 2019. Furthermore, it is worth paying attention to a new plan that attempts to make agriculture more sustainable by means of digital technologies

In fact, the topic of broadband in the rural areas of the Netherlands is one which is widely debated in academic research. The Netherlands is not an exception, the distribution of broadband to rural areas of the country continues to be difficult. According to some scholars, the key actors that pose a threat to the matter are the government and market players. The main reason being that they look after their own interests and not after those of the rural community. Therefore, a number of rural broadband initiatives led by citizens have been implemented over the years. Given the urgent nature of conditions, some rural communities appear to be pleased with any level of advancement, even though it does not implicate fibre-optic connections. Instead, rural citizens seem to be contented with 4Gconnections or cable networks

According to some scholars, in line with the opinion mentioned above, it is a challenge for communities to take the lead in the pursuit of their digital futures. The main aim of the rural broadband initiatives is to put high-speed broadband access into effect in the rural areas of the Netherlands. However, the truth is that the broadband market is a complicated and competitive one. The main reason for the urban-rural gap in terms of broadband is that companies focus on urban areas and bigger residential clusters given that financial gain is larger. In fact, the telecommunications market in the Netherlands has one of the most powerful broadband markets worldwide.

On the contrary, some scholars choose to highlight the successful cases of municipal broadband access networks in the Netherlands. For example, Kenniswijk was an experiment for broadband internet in a neighbourhood of Eindhoven as a testing ground for the Netherlands. Eindhoven is the fifth biggest city and a municipality of the Netherlands, situated in the south of the country. Companies installed glass fiber networks in the neighbourhood. As a result of three factors: the powerful community cooperation, the local information and the special offer of high speed Internet access throughout the first full year for 0€, more than 97% of the households became a member of the project

Moving on, on the other extreme, with regard to 5G, the latest generation wireless technology for mobile internet connectivity, the Netherlands seems to be among the European Union’s worst performers. This is the reason why the Netherlands’ focus for its digital future is in fact 5G. By 2025, the course of action proposed by the government of the Netherlands intends to provide all urban areas with uninterrupted 5G wireless broadband coverage, and in addition on important roads and railways too. In the case of the Netherlands, networks are mainly constructed by means of private investment, with public funding making up a very small part. Moreover, there is a marked contrast between the network deployment in the urban areas and the rural areas. In the urban areas, the network display is for the most part fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), whereas in the rural areas the network deployment is mainly fibre to the home (FTTH).  

Furthermore, according to several sources, the Netherlands is among the most advanced in mobile internet usage. In the year 2018, Denmark, Sweden (both 88%) and the Netherlands (86%) were in the highest position in the internet penetration rates in the European Union on mobile devices. Mobile devices are portable computing devices such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet computer. In contrast with the fact that, on average, 69% of the European Union population used mobile devices to access the internet in the year 2018. For that reason, one might conclude that Dutch people are heavy internet users. In fact, 90% of Dutch people aged 16 to 74 years use the internet every day, while in the European Union population the average is 76%. 

Consequently, the average internet speed in the Netherlands is 82 Mbps. This makes the country part of the ten leading countries with the highest speed internet connections. In terms of networks, there are two big ones in the broadband market in the Netherlands: KPN and VodafoneZiggo. In the past, KPN was a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). It has the largest DSL network in the country based on telephone lines. On the other hand, the VodafoneZiggo company is a joint venture between the telecommunications company Vodafone and the telephone service company Ziggo. VodafoneZiggo has the biggest coaxial cable network in the Netherlands. There are also numerous smaller local networks and local fibre cooperations, but they solely have a role on a regional scale

To conclude, we think that broadband in the Netherlands is a “good gets better and bad gets worse” situation. On the one hand, what seems to be a fairly straightforward task is not being carried out. As a result, some rural areas lag behind urban areas with regard to broadband. Whereas, on the other hand, public and private broadband companies are making their best efforts to implement the latest generation wireless technology for mobile internet connectivity (5G). Finally, in my opinion, the Netherlands will continue to be one of the most advanced countries with regard to broadband because of the hardworking nature of Dutch people.

We analyze international broadband and HbbTV evolution (here, the case of The Netherlands) in this blog, in Research Group about Digital Journalism and Marketing and Broadband and in Research Group on Innovative Monetization Systems of Digital Journalism, Marketing and Tourism (SIMPED), from CECABLEEscola Universitària Mediterrani of UdGUPF and Blanquerna-URL, in Twitter (@CECABLEresearch), in the group of LinkedIn, in the page of LinkedIn, in the group of Facebook, in Instagram (CECABLE), in Pinterest and in this blog. We will go in deep in the XXV Cable and Broadband Catalonia Congress (31 March-1 April 2020, Barcelona).

26 comentarios:

  1. A nice article with beautiful images. Congrats!

  2. Una anàlisi molt acurada sobre la realitat de la banda ampla als Països Baixos. Felicitats!!!

  3. Un análisi molt interessant sobre la banda ampla als Països Baixos.

    1. Moltes gràcies pel teu comentari, Dania! Aquests dies de pandèmia de coronavirus, la Societat de la Banda Ampla i Internet adquireixen tot el protagonisme!

  4. Article molt interessant! Hauriem de veure com podem fer, tenint l'exemple dels Països Baixos.

  5. Very interesting article and great analysis! I think the Netherlands is a great example for almost every country of the world.

  6. Es un tema interesante sobre los paises bajos y sobre la tencnologia , excelente articulo .

  7. ¡Artículo muy interesante y gran análisis! Holanda es un gran ejemplo de innovación y tecnología.

  8. Molt interessant. És admirable veure com un país pot arribar a un grau tant alt d'innovació.

  9. S'hauria de tenir com a referència als Països Baixos per evolucionar en termes d'innovació i tecnològics, fantàstic article.

  10. Una anàlisi molt completa sobre la realitat de la banda ampla als Països Baixos! Tot un exemple a seguir en aquest temps de pandèmia de Coronavirus. Felicitats!

  11. Interessant article sobre els països baixos!

  12. Els països del nord d'Europa sempre són un exemple a seguir. Molt bon article!