May 20, 2020 — Sweden has a knack for being the first to the table of tech. Ericsson, a telecommunications company based in Stockholm, introduced the world to the first telephone switch and the first mobile phone. Sweden is home to several game-changing tech companies: Spotify, Skype, Candy Crush, Minecraft and Pirate Bay, to name a few.
“Their valuations were just crazy, insane,” Isak Finér, chief marketing officer of information technology solutions provider COS Systems, said of the Swedish companies’ stock prices at their respective heights.
Part of the Swedish environment and culture is being primed for innovative technology, Finér told Broadband Breakfast in an interview: “Some are scared when something new comes. Sweden is always early.”
This is especially true for technologies that enhance efficiency in their work and in their personal lives. “People like to be self-reliant,” he said. But it also means that “they don’t want to talk to someone if they don’t have to.”
Sweden is also ahead of the curve in implementing open access networks, which is where COS Systems thrives.
Creating a model ecosystem for broadband in the elongated country
An open access network is a business model for providing internet to homes and institutions that is more competitive than the model most prevalent in the United States. In the U.S. model, big communications companies dominate. Not only do companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon own their broadband infrastructure, they also operate it. And they offer broadband internet services on top of the infrastructure.
Open-access networks are much more common outside of America. They can be a little complicated to visualize. If you think of a broadband network as a railroad, the train tracks represent the network of underground fiber-optic cable that feeds high-speed internet into homes and businesses throughout the country.
The current dominant model in the U.S. calls for the same people who own the “train tracks” to also supply the “trains,” or in this case the internet services.
An open access model, by contrast, allows train cars run by CarCo, a completely different company, to run on the railroad tracks owned by TrackCo. This gives the consumer more access to wider choices.
A willingness to adapt to the newest technology, along with the Swedish affinity for self-reliance, created a fertile environment for open access networks to take root. In 1994, Sweden’s version of AT&T, Telia, began charging “outrageous prices” for internet service, said Finér.
In response, Swedish municipalities revolted and began building their own networks.
Sweden proves fertile ground for companies that want to help open access networks grow
In addition, several aspects of Swedish demographics allowed for this revolution to flourish and become the norm within the Scandinavian nation: A consensus on the role of municipal governments, urbanization, digital literacy and a…