Is a fibre optic network necessary for the emergence of a Smart City?

I met several teams trying to define the outline of a Smart City program and asking themselves, quite naturally, the question of the validity of a fibre optic network, as a base.

This issue challenges minds because there is not, most of the time, for these project teams, a rational answer justifying the choice of optical fibre.

It is still possible to stimulate the creativity of city experts to enrich the list of proposed services, particularly those including images and videos (VoD, video surveillance, IPTV etc …), that consume more bandwidth. There is a good chance that such an approach does not saturate the capacity of such a telecommunication network, far from it.

But is the question of the capacity in a Smart City communication network a relevant one to ask?

It is interesting to note that wherever the fibre has been deployed, services, not imagined initially, have been deployed. It seems that the fibre acts like a catalyst or a stimulator of the development of services and of the associated economy. The fact that the capacity limits seem distant fosters initiatives. Swedish networks or the city of Chattanooga (Tennessee) are examples of success stories made possible by the fibre, supporting many services not foreseen initially.

A Smart City is not an entity defined in advance, we decide one day to build. It’s a story, a journey that certainly follows a direction, but the next day becomes clearer every day, in the light of the latest developments and latest thinking. I will return to this topic with future articles.

This journey and the associated development of a Smart City must not be slowed down or limited by a lack of infrastructure and, as a priority, the first of them, the one that supports the transport and storage of data.

A fibre network therefore, beyond the purely economic aspects, has a symbolic value: it sends a clear message to the business community of the city it covers, “go ahead, everything is possible.”

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