The technology export about the fiber roll-out

Sweden has run into a dead end

Patrik Fältström alias "paf", technology and head of security at Netnod, has been involved as long as we have had an Internet in Sweden. His track record is gigantic and his knowledge and experience is in demand by a number of organizations, authorities, the UN, councils, governments and the media. He has been involved in DNS and security issues since 1985. We asked him why he thinks Sweden is falling behind the digital era?

Do you agree that Sweden was out early with fiber expansion in Europe?

"Yes, we were. But for us as a nation, it has not meant that much. The fact that we did it early means that we still think we are good at fiber expansion, but we stopped that very quickly.”

What happened?

"The fiber that was deployed was not made available. Major investments were made that did not reach all the way. We are not as good as we could be. We were first, now we are last in the OECD's ranking and we are very far down on virtually all rankings now.

In Germany, they now build significantly better fiber. It has nothing to do with the fiber expansion itself, but with the quality of what is rolled out. It does not help to count the number of connected households. The problem with fiber is that it is not available to those who are interested. Fiber is deployed by a company and only that company uses it.

My analyzes say that in terms of market economy, we have not used money in such an efficient way. It is the business models that are at fault. In the open city networks, only one player rents the fiber and often it is the player who lays down the fiber. Then the production cost becomes too high because the networks are far too small. If you do not have a huge number of customers, you can not run the network with financial success. Compared with previous years, there is no longer much fiber expansion in Sweden. Wholesalers who sell fiber to those who dig down fiber sell almost nothing in Sweden anymore, compared to before. It is in England and Germany that it is being built in the right way now. Of course, we can be happy and pat ourselves on the back about how many people have gained internet access via fiber, but I am worried we have driven into a dead end and from there it is always difficult to get out. "

What do you think should be done?

“I think small communications operators are closing down their active network or selling it to someone so we get consolidation. Next, they start renting out fiber to everyone. With competition in terms of the activation of the fiber and consolidation into larger networks, we can achieve economy on the networks that build less today. But on the other hand, I do not see how it would go because it would disrupt today's business models too much, so I have no good answer to that question. Of course, it was good that Sweden was the first with fiber expansion, on the other hand, it means that many did not think about it in the beginning. ”

What do you mean by going from verticals to lasagna?

“The Internet consists of many layers in the value chain and in the Internet architecture, the layers in the value chain should be as independent of each other as possible. This is often what people do wrong - over and over again. In a first bottom layer is fiber. To light up the fiber is another layer, to send IP packets, such as Internet access, is a third layer, the application level is a fourth layer. There are too many dependencies between these layers today, both technically and commercially.

The Academy of Engineering Sciences, had a project where I was involved in looking at the different layers of the internet in an academic way. There are any number of examples where you have built in verticals. The academy came to the conclusion that we should go from verticals to lasagna. Digitization does not mean a technical transformation, but it is a transformation of organizations and above all processes in the way you can thanks to digital tools. You have to work in a completely different way when you have horizontal layers. That's what people have failed at. Over and over again, you come back to explaining and helping people work in a lasagna model instead of in verticals. You get poorer efficiency and safety if you create verticals. Building business models for verticals provides good finances in the short term, and for individual organizations it looks great commercially. But for SOCIETY it is not good. There is an opposite relationship between business short-term analyzes and the analysis that society does. They do not always agree. If we take vaccine as an example. Should we dare or not? There are individuals who think that "I dare not vaccinate myself because I do not know what the risk is". But for SOCIETY, in a long-term perspective, it is crystal clear that everyone should get vaccinated. ”

Should the state go in and decide?

"At the application level, no, the state should not decide, but people must begin to realize it themselves. Apparently, consumers agree that they must either use Google Meet or Zoom for a video conference. But if one uses Google Meet and the other party wants to use Zoom, they can not communicate. It is an example of two verticals. We can only solve this problem with market economy means, such as the buyer demanding that services be compatible and then large buyers such as municipalities and states must make demands. For example, if they want to buy a video conferencing system, they may require it to work with any other video conferencing system. Because we live in a market economy, companies do nothing that they do not get paid for. If it is a higher cost for companies to build lasagna in the short term, there must be someone who is willing to pay for it. Despite this market development, it has nevertheless meant that we have received the expansion that we de facto have, it is not so bad. ”

You say that the German market is building smarter. Why?

“What I see is that in Sweden we were initially better than Germany because we chose to dig down fiber while Germany let Deutsche Telecom continue to have its monopoly. But when we started in Sweden, we did it in a way that may not be completely optimal in the long run. In Germany, on the other hand, it took much longer, but in the end the various cities began to revolt and since they started much later, they did not make mistakes and today build better than in Sweden.

How do you view Internet security?

“We have the problem of internet security on the service side. People still make mistakes and that's because it's so easy to design, develop or implement services. I think we will see more problems, not because services are getting worse but because more services today are exposed on the internet. The increase in incidents is probably due to the increase in the number of services available online. So in percentage terms, it's not that much worse. Of course, it is extremely serious that things that are actually worthy of protection are exposed. Despite organizations' risk and vulnerability analysis, there are weaknesses, as we saw in the incidents with 1177 and the Swedish Transport Agency, for example. This is very strange because it is obvious that a risk and vulnerability analysis must include internet-related issues and it obviously does not do that often enough. I'm very worried about that."

Will the internet change and in what way?

"I do not think I see any signs that the internet is changing. What is changing, however, is the end users' perception of what the internet is. For me and others who work with what is the internet, the web has not changed. Both I at Netnod and Waystream work with the internet, that is, to move IP packets, while the user thinks that the internet is equal to using Facebook or some other type of social media. There have been silos where you live in your tool, you choose to use Facebook and no other supplier. The common man believes that the services on the internet ARE internet. So it is the perception of what is the internet that is changing, not the internet itself. ”

Should we have an IT Accident Investigation Board?

“We now have a law that IT-related incidents must be reported to the authorities. However, we do not require that the person receiving the information actually do anything meaningful with it. There should be some kind of incentive. As a society, we are forced to have expensive processes for the information to be collected, but unfortunately we do not get much back for it. We report because we have to, not because we want to or because we see a benefit with it. That's a problem. It's like police reports. People are reluctant to report as often nothing happens. The incentive disappears. If people had seen the benefit of reporting internet incidents, they would have done so without the need for mandatory legislation. "

What do you think was the most interesting thing that happened in Sweden around the turn of the millennium?

"It was that nothing happened!"

Can you say something positive about the future?

"There is concern among those who think that the internet should continue to be 'permissionless innovation' with competition and a market economy that will lead to high quality and lower prices. It is a problem that a household, a property, which makes such a large investment as it is to connect fiber that will work for many years, is not offered competition. Here, the market economy is put out of play. This is serious because it is the control mechanism we have in Sweden. We believe in consumer law and we have done a lot of legislation that forces companies to be open about which products they sell so that the consumer has a choice and can change supplier. But when it comes to choosing a fiber provider, there is no competition or choice. You are either stuck in Telia or stuck in IP Only, or stuck in a city network, depending on where you live. If the market economy is put out of play, then we only have supervision left. That is why legislators and regulators do not know what to do. "

But come on now, something positive about the network you need to be able to say?

“The positive thing is that we have so many in Sweden who get internet via fiber, in this way we have succeeded. So far, it is possible to do what we call “permissionless innovation,” that is, everyone's right to invent without asking the telecommunications company for permission. The majority of countries think it is good. This basic attitude is the key to what the internet IS. ”

Note See: "Digitization for increased competitiveness".

Relay question

Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder refers to an article that Microsoft has written where Microsoft believes that the Geneva Conventions do not cover the IT and cyber area. They think that type of document is needed. What do you think about that type of document?

Patrik Fältström answers

"I am pessimistic about new binding documents. I do not think it helps because then we will still sit and drudge about how to interpret them. However, I think we need to agree on how to implement the documents. What can help is to talk about just such as the non-binding parts of the Tallinn Manual, or that a best-practice is written on how to interpret the conventions in a cyber world. There are many fiber owners, many operators and many other players who are using the internet and it is very good to talk interpretation of existing documents while you are friends. Because once it hits, you do not have time to sit and discuss interpretation. If we work with that type of agreement on how to interpret existing binding documents, then the binding document does not have to be so explicit that it has to interpret the internet. That is why I believe that the already well-established Geneva Conventions are sufficient."

Patrik Fälström passes on the RELAY to Fredrik Nyman, Product Manager Waystream with the question:

“Many people have fiber for their homes, but far from all. Can anyone do something to drastically (again) increase the pace of expansion? Or should we "just" wait for the expansion to be completed eventually? If there is anyone who can do something, who should it be and what should they do? ” Read Fredrik Nyman's answer in the next article.


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