TERRAIN - Techno-economic research for future access infrastructure networks


Fibre to the home (FTTH) is considered as the most future-proof solution for next-generation access networks. Nevertheless, migrating to an all fibre access network is one bridge too far for many telecom operators. The main problem is the high installation cost, which often comprises more than 60-70% of the overall rollout costs in case trenching works are required.

Telecommunications networks can be seen as another utility network (comparable to electricity, water or gas), due to the large similarities in rollout and operational management of all these networks. New investments in utility networks mostly imply large infrastructure works which disrupt traffic and cause frustration for inhabitants and local retailers. The rollout and upgrade of these networks, nor the continuous operations such as repair and maintenance processes, are mostly not synchronised. When the different actors such as municipalities (roads), sewerage, drinking water, gas, electricity and telecom infrastructure owners can be brought together, this could lead to large synergies and considerable savings.

The TERRAIN project will focus on a better cooperation between all actors involved to optimize the rollout of new telecom and other utility networks, and to align operational processes in a more consistent way. All aspects will be analysed from a techno-economic point of view, considering the whole picture: technical, social, economic and regulatory sub-problems are tackled. A consortium is composed, including several equipment vendors, a telecom operator, utility company, municipality, FTTH interest group, GIS software supplier, and multi-disciplinary research groups.

Social user and stakeholder research will provide deeper insight into the needs and expectations of the citizens, business users and government for fixed broadband Internet services. An in-depth understanding of the drivers for both access to and use of broadband services will be investigated. This must enable time related adoption forecasting models, detecting the most likely opportunities and allowing an optimal introduction and rollout strategy. Special attention will be given to the digital divide, in terms of physical connection, skills and attitude.

Duration of the project

The project runs from 01/04/2010 - 31/03/2012.

Staff involved

  • Tom Evens
  • Elke Boudry
  • Constantijn Seys


  • ICT & Society

Financed by

  • iMinds