Chris Dziadul looks at Bucharest’s NetCity fibre-optic network.
One of the most important issues currently facing Romania’s cable industry is the NetCity project in the capital, Bucharest.
Earlier this week, a press conference at the 12th Romanian Cable Communications Association (ACC) convention addressed the project and its likely impact on the industry, not just in the capital but Romania as a whole.
As has already been reported in Broadband TV News, the idea behind NetCity is to create an underground fibre-optic network that will eventually be used by cable operators and ISPs. It recently looked likely to go ahead, with Bucharest City Hall expected to sign a 49-year lease deal with a company named UTI Systems.
Yet all is not as it seems. Although the ACC and its members, which include UPC and RCS/RDS, Romania’s two largest cable operators, are broadly supportive of the NetCity project, they claim that work on it has already started without all the necessary technical and financial preparations having been made. What is more, they believe NetCity would create a monopoly, with cable operators having to rent both the ducts and the network.
Cost is also an issue, with the ACC of the view that at €42 million for a total length of 1,427km the project is not financially viable.
Bucharest, as other cities in Romania, is effectively self-governing, and the outcome of the NetCity project will closely be followed in other parts of the country that may wish to undertake something similar. It is therefore important, in the ACC’s view, to make sure things are done correctly in Bucharest before the ‘template’ is adopted elsewhere.
Speaking to Broadband TV News, ACC president Radu Petric said that the association is already engaged in a legal action against the Bucharest city authorities, with the next hearing into the case set for February.
Arguably the NetCity dispute has come at the wrong time for Romania’s cable industry. Already an extremely powerful force in the broadcast industry – it serves around 60% of TV homes and is behind three of the country’s five DTH platforms – its focus of attention should be on digitalization and the rollout of additional services.
NetCity will certainly be help in the process, but only if it is undertaken to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.