The number of fibre to the home (FTTH) and fibre to the building (FTTB) subscribers in Europe increased by 23 per cent over the first nine months of 2016, reaching nearly 44.3 million FTTH/B subscribers. Homes passed increased by 17 per cent, reaching more than 148 million in EU39* at end-September 2016, according to the latest update of the FTTH market from The FTTH council.
What is the outlook of the FTTH ranking and panorama?
At end-September 2016, there were more than 20.5 million FTTH/B subscribers in EU28**, with a penetration rate of 9.4 per cent, according to the latest update of the FTTH market panorama prepared by IDATE for the FTTH Council Europe. Looking at EU39, after Russia, which counts more than 17 million subscribers, the other largest markets in absolute figures remain, as per last year, Spain (reaching 4.5 million subscribers with 72 per cent growth rate over nine months), France (3.2 million subscribers with 32 per cent growth) and Romania (2.7 million subscribers with 17 per cent growth).
Two new economies have now entered the FTTH Ranking: Austria & Serbia, reaching 1% penetration. Austria is characterized by a smooth and constant very high capacity networks deployment. In terms of penetration, while Telekom Austria and Citycom/Graz are the leading players in the FTTH/B market, the high activity of local players and local initiatives accounted for almost 50 per cent of the total FTTH/B subscribers.
In Serbia, while the market is still highly concentrated in cable solutions, FTTH is in a positive process to evolve. Telekom Srbija is the leading player in the FTTH/B market. Serbian regulator RATEL has launched in 2014 a National Broadband Plan in order to promote very high-capacity networks initiatives from the private sector.
In terms of penetration, Latvia has confirmed the impressive progress the country has undertaken since end-December 2014 and now holds the lead position in the European FTTH ranking, with a penetration rate of 45.2 per cent. Latvia is followed by Sweden, which has also maintained a high FTTH growth rate in 2016 with a penetration rate of 40.7 per cent, and Lithuania, which lost its number one position but still assures a very good position in the ranking, with a penetration rate of 40.3 per cent, against 36.8 oer cent at end-September 2015. They are not the only countries racing forward. France, with its French Very High Speed Broadband Plan or “Plan France Très Haut Débit”, seeks to bring very high-speed broadband service, mainly based on fibre infrastructure, to every home, business and government office by 2022. Local authorities are accelerating FTTH rollouts in rural and suburban areas, bridging the digital divide in the country. As a result, France’s penetration rate gained almost three points, from 8.5 per cent at end-September 2015 to 11.1 per cent at end-September 2016, increasing by 32 per cent its FTTH/B subscriber base’s. Moving the scope to FTTH/B take-up (total subscribers over the total homes passed), the rate attains 28.8 per cent in September 2016, showing that the more people are reached by fibre, the more they migrate to the future-proof technology.
“The latest European FTTH ranking proves what we have believed at the FTTH Council Europe for the past year: looking at countries such as France and Spain, and the overall FTTH growth rate in Europe, it is now clear that there is a stronger than ever momentum towards FTTH” commented Ronan Kelly, President of the FTTH Council Europe. “We are glad to witness such progress, including two new countries entering our FTTH ranking. We feel that Europe is now well positioned to stimulate even more FTTH rollout: the European Commission’s recent Gigabit Society Communication sets a vision where widespread, very high capacity networks underpin the services to society that will keep Europe at the forefront of economic development. We at the FTTH Council Europe are very positive and very supportive of those efforts and hope to see their rapid adoption into law. Of course, there is still work to do, but we are moving in the right direction to make Europe a global digital leader”.
Incumbents play an important role in some European countries, accounting for 43 per cent of homes passed in EU39 at end-September 2015, compared to 21 per cent at end 2011, and Serbia is a good example which just entered the ranking. It is also important to note and welcome the fact that countries such as Belgium and Italy are now evolving in a more fibre-friendly environment and as such moving towards FTTH/B technologies. In Ireland, the Government’s National Broadband Plan changed its network specification to require FTTH-based infrastructure. The UK government has now allocated a fund specifically dedicated to FTTH deployment. Many more similar initiatives are expected in the coming months. Nearly all players, even those that are less involved in FTTH/B, now consider that FTTH is the end game.
*The EU 39 includes Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom
**The EU 28 includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom