Tower Block Has Its Own Optical Fibre: Greater Internet Speed at a Fraction of the Cost

Tower Block Has Its Own Optical Fibre: Greater Internet Speed at a Fraction of the Cost

The 20-story tower block Asunto-osakeyhtiö Espoon Leppävaaran Torni is located in Leppävaara, Espoo, next to a large shopping centre. The block has 115 apartments and is exceptional in many ways – including the way the residents’ internet connection has been implemented.

Unlike in typical city apartments, almost no one in the Leppävaaran Torni tower block has their own internet subscription from an operator. Instead, the condominium has a single, common optical fibre connection with a gigabyte per second upload/download speed that has been divided between the apartments in the tower block.

It all started with 100 megabytes

The man behind the connection project is one of the residents of the tower block, the 40-year old communications engineer Eero Volotinen. Originally he set out to find alternatives to fit his own needs: ”I wanted for instance a symmetrical 100/100 megabyte broadband connection, but none of the operators would provide me with one. Thanks to the optical fibre connection in the building I could have gotten a connection with a nominal speed of 1000/100 megabytes, but it would have cost 70 €/month. So, I started to find out what kinds of connection options were available for the condominium as a whole.” Volotinen says.

According to Volotinen, internet operators who sell connection packages have very little motivation to offer common connections to condominiums for the simple reason that selling apartment specific connections gives clearly better profit. Because of this the choice of the provider of the optical fibre connection fell, based on tenders, on SuomiCom from Espoo, who specialize in fast connections for companies. ”Many operators who sell connections to companies, don’t think of condominiums as companies, even though the turnover of a condominium of over a hundred apartments, such as ours, is quite large.” Volotinen points out.

A fast connection for one and all

The broadband connection provided by SuomiCom currently reaches the speed of one gigabyte per second both for downloading and uploading. In this it is clearly different from most consumer connections, which are almost always unsymmetrical, with uploading being noticeably slower than downloading.

The capacity is easy to increase if needed, as technically the connection speed can be raised to as much as ten gigabytes without any changes to the hardware. Volotinen says that so far, the one gigabyte connection has been more than enough. The biggest ever load spike in the condominium raised the download load to approx. 500 megabytes per second, that is, half of the maximum speed. This means that there’s plenty of room for growth before there’s any need to worry about increasing the speed class.

The implementation of the connection was made easier by the fact that, in addition to the optical fibre already installed in the building, all buildings constructed in 2009 have ethernet cabling installed in all apartments and common areas. Thanks to this, the club room of the condominium now has a dedicated WIFI for everyone to use.

”Even though the connection bandwidth is shared between all the apartments, in practise a single user in our condominium has as much bandwidth available as their equipment is likely to be able to use.” Volotinen says. One of the reasons why people shy away from shared connections in buildings may be exactly the theoretical chance of load peaks in the shared bandwidth, but this need not be a problem if the bandwidth is dimensioned correctly.

Low costs please the users

Even more than the speed, the noticeably lower costs have pleased the users in the condominium. Before the users would pay up to several tens on euros per month for apartment specific connections, depending on the speed class. Now the cost of the super-fast connection in the condominium is the same for every apartment, approx. 10 euros.

Taking the connection into use doesn’t cause any undue bother either: users can connect their equipment directly into the open internet socket in the wall or create their own wireless network using a base station router, which costs just a few tens of euros at the lowest. Thanks to the ready to use cabling, no apartment specific installation was needed.

Eero Volotinen points out the cost savings as the largest benefit in condominium specific optical fibre connections: ”That each user buys their own internet connection from an operator is in no way cost efficient. Companies don’t buy separate internet connections for every employee either.”
”Having a joint broadband connection will generate yearly savings in the tens of thousands.” Volotinen explains, pleased. He sums up: ”With the new arrangement many of the residents in the building got an internet connection that is ten or even a hundred times faster than what they had before, and at the same time the cost went down. Their reaction has been understandably positive.”

Fixed within four hours

In addition to the other residents, also Volotinen, whose internet needs spawned the entire idea in the first place, is naturally pleased. ”Previously doing a backup of the hard drive of my laptop into the cloud could take a week. Now there’s hardly any need to wait.” he smiles.

Company connections don’t have a similar helpdesk that helps with technical problems as consumer connections usually have. This too has another side: the operator response time for consumer connection problems is typically three days, whilst SuomiCom promises to react to problems within four hours. In practise the only problem according to Volotinen has been a backbone network problem that affected all internet connections in Southern Finland. The condominium connection has turned out to be fast, cost effective and reliable.

If you’re interested in getting a joint optical fibre connection for your condominium, you can request details directly from Eero Volotinen. He can be reach by phone 050 347 8920 or via email eero.volotinen[at]iki.fi.

Translation into English by Vanessa Sjögren on behalf of Eero Volotinen’s employer, Finnish Net Solutions Oy.