The summary of another pandemic year. Romanian Fiber Optic Conference 2021, between virtual and physical reality

For the past 2 years, the life of each of us has no longer been at the normality level we used to know. We are living in uncertain times which challenge the ability to meet our goals despite the obstacles that have been arising with the pandemic. Due to this new context of unexpected changes, the Romanian Fiber Optic Conference 2021 did not take place in the well-known typical framework.  

Romanian Fiber Optic Conference 2021 was organized in a peculiar manner. As they were used to gather each year at the beginning of March, telecomunications specialists met again in 2021 during the same period, but this time without physical contact, in the  online environment. Nontheless, all the organizers’s efforts paid off in September when the physical conference took place on September 29 at Ramada Plaza, in Bucharest.

„Networks convergence and last-mile network in Romania. Issues. Challenges. Solutions” was the main subject of 2021. In retrospect, on March 4, 2021, Cornel Bărbuț, RFOA vice-president and moderator of the online conference, was joined by:

-       RFOA- Sorin Bogdan, RFOA president,

-       Reichle & De-Massari - Cezar Lovin, Country Manger Romania,

-       Camusat- Cătălin Diaconescu, Business Development Manager,

-       TeledataNET - Dinu Dragomir,  General Manager.

However, on September 29, the number of participants has increased remarkably:

-       Sorin BOGDAN, RFOA president

-       Vincent GARNIER, Executive Director FTTH Council Europe

-       Florin Adrian DRAGOMIR, ANCOM

-       Constantin MITACHE, Executive Director AMR

-       Adrian RĂCĂȘAN, CEO Netcity Telecom

-       Cătălin DIACONESCU, Camusat

-       Iuliana CHIREA, General Manager ASRO

-       Alin Marian TROCEANU, Prysmian

-       Hristo Krilchev, Reco

-       Marius Ionescu, Micromedia

-       Marian Anghel, Duraline

-       Cezar Lovin, Reichle & de Massari

 

The topics discussed during both sessions were the following:

-      Network convergence (open access, cost reduction). How could the existing networks be shared? How could fiber optics and other utilities coexist in a common canal?

-       Fiber Optics development in Romania (by 2025)?

-       Indoor fiber optic networks. Proposals and solutions.

 

Many discussions were held on the topics mentioned above and here are the conclusions:

-       Network convergence can be achieved by building reinforced concrete structures which will then help local authorities in developping fiber optic networks.

-       Regarding the last-mile solutions, there exists the basis for the connection through the facade (the local authorities have this responsability).

-       Although there are legal regulantions on the existent infrastructure sharing process and the obligation for new buildings to be provided with indoor physical infrastructure, in practice, these regulations have no immediate application.

-       There is a need for a precise rule on the use of a route when sharing the infrastructure.

-       Regarding the new buildings whose developers are under the obligation to provide them with physical infrastructure, a minimum number of microducts should be established by technical norms (minimum 3). In addition, technical norms on a minimum number of optical fibers for each flat should be also developed so that there is a unique indoor physical infrastructure that is not just the microduct, but the optical fiber itself.

-       Despite the human resource costs when it comes to achieve the coexistence of fiber optics with other utilities, at the level of cities, things can be simplified by organizing a local construction site.

-       The pandemic emphasized people’s need for information access.

-       In order for the quality of fiber optic industry’s work to increase, the education of those working in telecommunications must be prioritized. 

-       The pseudo-competition between service suppliers (sewerage/ gas/ energy etc.) diminishes the chances of successful network convergence. In this case, local authorities have the power to step up and facilitate the interaction between service suppliers.

-       The infrastructure is physically burdened by inactive cables which complicate the network development. So, that being the case, ANCOM has announced the completion and the issue of the infrastructure register and the possibility to fix a national fee on poles. Moreover, the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization simplifies the process regarding the obtaining of the urbanism certificate and the building permit by digitalizing the process, which facilitates the aerial network development.

-       There is a need for new legal regulations so the local FTTH networks to be declared public utility (which will further on lead to eligibility for European Union funds).

-       The city halls of medium-sized localities that have already undertaken endeavors and started the process of network migration to the underground have to be more widely publicized and promoted as role models.

-       Fiber optics, telecommunications should be categorized as public utility.

-       Fiber optic networks should be built by certified individuals, which requires the foundation of a proper infrastructure for human resource (site managers, project verifiers, telecommunications experts) to perform and to ensure work quality.

-       Government authorities should draft the methodology for enforcing the infrastructure law no. 159/2016 and they should also update the 18/2001 regulation on low voltages.

-       Local authorities must take responsibility for building indoor and outdoor physical infrastructures, as well as for coordinating civil works.

-       Operators should set up an open training and certification system of human resource to expand fiber optic networks by 2025; they should invest in the Dual School and create optical fiber research programs.   

-       Suppliers (service suppliers, material suppliers) should make an appropriate plan for fiber optic works and they should invest in staff training.

Moreover, if during the March meeting the participants have presented the products of the companies they represent in Romania through videos, in September, their products were physically displayed and presented.

We conclude this memento, this Romanian Fiber Optic Conference 2021 epilogue by thanking you for your online and physical support. Until we meet again virtually or physically!