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99% of Porto residents with access to fiber optics in 5 years

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The DST group announced yesterday an investment of 80 million euros to install 1,000 kilometers of fiber in the city of Porto, a project that joins four companies of the northern group to the Porto Digital Association. Today TeK spoke with Alexandre Sousa, director-general of the association that brings together several public entities in the city.

The official explained that the new project has been planned for five years and intends to cover 99 percent of the population of Porto. By June of next year, all public and private schools will have access to technology.

Alexandre Sousa hopes to soon start receiving expressions of interest from operators, although he admits that having chosen a progression towards the route that favors public bodies first (many without access costs to the network, thanks to the terms of the protocol that supports the project) o interest in the network by these partners may not arise yet.

The official also considers that «the operators are not used to this operation model, although there are already some examples in Europe» and justifies the moderate enthusiasm that he has felt about the initiative.

The fiber network that will be born over the next five years will be operated by the company created between DST and Porto Digital and will operate in an open logic, with any operator being able to provide services on the infrastructure. Alexandre Sousa defends the model, due to the obvious benefits in terms of costs for an operator, and ensures that the project promoters’ objective is to arrive at a business model that allows operators who provide services through the network to collect two thirds of the revenue generated ( one third will pay for access).

As TeK wrote yesterday, Porto Digital has been involved in a European project over the past few years that also aimed to provide the region with a fiber optic infrastructure. Alexandre Sousa confirmed to us that part of the infrastructure developed under that project will now be used in the new investment. The data it presents also show that this first project fell far short of what was initially planned. Of the two hundred locations that the fiber rings created should have connected in the second phase of the project (between public institutions and institutions of public interest), only 80 were connected, in an investment close to 4 million euros, co-funded by the European Union. The lack of budget prevented the project, which in this first version was less ambitious in terms of city coverage, although it also planned to take fiber beyond public bodies (namely companies), to go further.

Alexandre Sousa explains that the intention has always been to cover the fiber network but admits that only with a private partner with the capacity to invest would it be possible to continue the initial project. In this partnership with DST, the remaining entities involved invest approximately half a million euros.

Cristina A. Ferreira