Outlook to 2023 strategy and workplan
As we conclude 2022, what are your key takeaways for the FTTH Council Europe?
We started 2022 in good shape as we benefited from the end of COVID restrictions in Europe. This has been particularly important for our flagship event, the FTTH Conference, which, despite postponement from March to May, proved to be highly successful with close to 3,500 delegates meeting together in person in Vienna. The pandemic has led many countries to accelerate the rollout of full fibre networks, with fibre now seen as the truly future proof and most sustainable solution to improving Europe's resilience. Consequently, the mission of the FTTH Council Europe remains fully relevant, even if there is still much to be accomplished.
How do you see the evolution of the FTTH Council Europe moving forward?
We are increasingly focused on maximising the benefits of fibre networks. Even if access to fibre networks is now possible for half of European households (with coverage rates in some countries above 80%), the number of citizens subscribing to fibre-based internet services is considerably less. Therefore, understanding what drives demand for fibre and encourages the adoption of fibre services is vital - we will soon be releasing an important new study on this.
The FTTH Council Europe creates the perfect environment for our Members to network and develop their knowledge of technology, markets and public policy. Our organisation is working harder than ever to improve the services it brings to its members, whether they be vendors of products, solutions, investors or operators. We want to increase the support we provide our committees and I am pleased to see a great number of new projects already engaged in 2023.
In Spring 2023 you will leave the Board and the presidency of the association, what did you gain and learn from this experience?
It has been a fantastic and rewarding time. We are lucky to be in an industry which provides an increasingly important, and sometime vital, service to society. This is probably one of the reasons why, despite the fierce competition which exists in our markets, we are able to cooperate in such a constructive way within the Council. I would strongly encourage all my peers to invest time in the Council's activities. It makes us better professionals and brings added dimensions to our careers.
How did the FTTH Council Europe financially managed the past few months and the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic?
Our non-for-profit association is nearly entirely financed by our Members and through sponsorship of our activities. We have no public financing. The cancellation of two physical conferences presented us with challenges, but at the same time created new opportunities. It forced us to accelerate the digitalisation of our processes and we had to create new services to bring new value to our Members in the absence of a face-to-face conference. In spite of these challenges, we kept our finances in the black throughout this period.
What is the financial strategy of the Council?
We are prudent in the way we manage our expenses, as the resilience of the organisation is a priority. Much of our focus is placed on creating value for our Members, seeking to build a service of the highest quality, while closely pursuing the mission of the association. We are not a commercial organisation and as a not-for-profit business we rely on our work with and for our members.
As a banker closely following the economical environment, how do you see the FTTH market evolving in 2023?
Over recent years, I have observed strong investment activity in the FTTH market, which is certainly expected to continue into 2023. Of course, a more volatile economic environment, with rising interest rates, presents new challenges. However, the sustained growth of this market underpins investors' belief in the profitability and sustainability of investments in digital infrastructure.
At the last General Assembly you presented the FTTH Council Europe's workplan for next year, are you introducing any new project in 2023?
First, we are planning to support a number of new Committee initiatives including - a survey on In Home Broadband challenges, a bi-annual report on FTTH Investment and the development of the format of our renowned Market Panorama. We will also communicate the results of our study on FTTH adoption drivers, the Women in Fibre committee is launching a new Diversity Champion award (which will be announced at the FTTH Conference 2023 in Madrid next year) and we will celebrate women professionals through a series of videos later in the year. We will also intensify our efforts around the subject of Sustainability with an important initiative that will be presented at the FTTH Conference 2023 in Madrid.
In addition to our Committee work, we aim to further promote our members FTTH product and service solutions through the introduction of a brand new service within the FTTH website. This will help visitors identify the FTTH products and experts they seek using a new interactive search service.
We have objectives to create new opportunities of networking between members. On -line or face-to-face and more generally, we plan to keep creating additional value for our members, helping them maximise the value of their membership. We have plenty of potential to further grow the association.
What are your plans for the next FTTH Conference?
The FTTH Conference in Madrid, on April 18-20 will build on the success of the 2022 edition in Vienna. We will make some marginal improvements to our design concept with the aim of providing our delegates with more networking opportunities, access to high quality content and expert solutions from our sponsors. Being in a country next year where FTTH development is now mature, the conference presents the perfect opportunity to allows delegates to reflect on the future of our industry and anticipate further market development.
Why are your Members joining the association?
Beyond a common willingness to support our mission, I think the motivations of our members depend on their profile. For companies selling products or services, we offer a unique platform to better understand our market and help them promote their brand and develop new business throughout Europe. Network Operators greatly appreciate the role we play in influencing EU policy and regulation. They also increasingly value the possibility to share their knowledge and experience with the entire value chain on subjects such as technology, investments, sustainability or talent management. And finally, our members from the Investor community see their membership as a unique way to better promote their brand and increase their understanding of the industry .
Recalling the dynamic that exists during our event, I am convinced our members greatly value the quality of networking we offer.