‘Ready for the future, everything is Telecom’

Harry van Gunst

If you’d have to give an example of an old hand in the trade, Harry van Gunst would be a good bet. Calling him a guru might take it a step too far, but within BAM and the Dutch telecom industry – and possibly Europe-wide – no one knows as much about communication networks as the commercial manager of BAM Infra Telecom.

For almost all of his career, Harry (65) has been developing communication networks. Copper cables, coax or fibre glass, Harry knows them inside out. ‘My absolute favourite activity is developing solutions for things we’ll be doing four to five years from now. That’s what motivates me.’

Learned a lot

In the seventies Harry worked for the Dutch umbrella organisation for housing associations (Nationale Woningraad, current name Aedes), where he was involved with cable TV networks in residential complexes. After that, he joined cable provider Casema (now known as Ziggo) to work on the roll-out and subsequent upgrading of cable networks. Next he made the move to contracting. ‘My first job there was laying copper networks for Dutch telecom provider KPN, then later on I helped set up networks all over Europe. My main responsibility at the time was finding the necessary hands. Working internationally has really taught me a lot.’

Hybrid networks

For almost eighteen years now, Harry has been with BAM, where he and his colleagues have been the driving force behind a great many innovations and developments. Such as TriNet, which was developed together with Volker Wessels for KPN in 2002. ‘TriNet was a future-proof network that combined copper and fibre – a copper network for immediate use, with fibre readily available for future applications. The idea was to ensure no further excavations would be necessary once the client switched to fibre. At a later stage we added fibre to these hybrid networks for KPN/Reggefiber.’

Some years later BAM Infra Telecom developed Fiber-to-the-Home (FttH), with its first applications in Nuenen and Kenniswijk Eindhoven, an experimental broadband project in a residential area. For the creation of a hybrid network in Amsterdam, BAM Infra Telecom in conjunction with cable manufacturer Prysmian/Draka developed a new type of fibre optic cable that is strong enough to be laid in the ground without a jacket pipe. ‘Collaborations with the market are crucial. Another example was the development of new technology to bring fibre to a remote area in the Twente region in the eastern Netherlands. This was for our client Cogas, and our partner was Van Gelder.’

Smart Cities

Harry van Gunst appreciates the way BAM has always given him the necessary leeway to be innovative. ‘Occasionally someone will want to step on the breaks, but I’m not easily held back. The worst thing you could do as an organisation is sit back and wait for things to happen. BAM is a natural innovator. It’s in the interest of the organisation and its people that we keep looking forward to the future. Take a highly topical issue like Smart Cities. Everything that this involves, such as sensoring, the Internet of Things and data management, is available in the BAM package. Or take the arrival of 5G and the related development of new networks. BAM Infra Telecom is fully prepared and ready.’