The Internet in the Netherlands has always been fast, much faster than the world average. But as of this month, we have dropped out of the top 10 of countries with the fastest connections in the world. We can thank just one company for this: KPN.
A survey by the CDN Akamai this month showed that not only are other countries raising their Internet’s speeds – the US saw a dramatic nine percent increase – the average Internet speed in the Netherlands is actually decreasing by 2.9 percent year to year to 17.4 Mbps. Where others invest in higher speeds, we see a decline over here. And why? Because high speed Internet is bad business for KPN.
Back in the day KPN got the copper cables that were needed for DSL lines for free from the government, as KPN used to be state owned. They had a really big market position at relatively low cost. And they basically controlled the rollout of the country’s broadband Internet. Along came Reggefiber: this company started installing fibre cables to individual houses of consumers. Up to 2013 they worked hard, with over 300.000 new connections in six months.
KPN saw its market position as well as its control of the speeds fading – upload and download speeds are symmetric on fibre optic cables, and on copper wires they aren’t – so they bought Reggefiber. And lo and behold, the new fibre optic cable connections dropped to just 50.000 in the first six months of 2017. After the take-over, KPN felt ‘it was better to invest in their own existing, copper wired DSL lines’. They also feel that the main fibre optic lines are close enough to houses (up to 100 meters from consumers’ homes), to maintain high speeds whilst using the copper wires for these last few meters. Ask people in Rotterdam if they agree with that – only three percent of the houses in that city has access to high speed fibre Internet.
Everybody who works with fibre optic cables knows that the statements KPN makes are simply not true. Using VDSL over copper wires you can achieve a download/upload speed of 60/6, maybe 80/8 if you are lucky. Fibres have symmetric speeds. Besides that, there will always be a maximum to what copper cables can handle before their frequency spectrum runs out, whereas the fibres have no limit. What KPN also don’t say is that this is a much cheaper way for them, because they do not have to dig and install new cables to houses or apartment buildings.
Thanks to KPN’s business model, The Netherlands are losing our high speed Internet connections, one of our unique selling points in this strong economy. Because of our near perfect Internet service we were able to grow, and more importantly, be as innovative as we are right. If KPN keeps holding us back, they are directly hurting the Dutch economy left, right and center.