The total number of homes passed with Fibre to the Home (FTTH) and Fibre to the Building (FTTB) in the EU39 reached nearly 182.6 million homes in September 2020, compared to 172 million in September 2019. The main movers in terms of homes passed in absolute numbers are France (+4.6 million), Italy (+2.8 million), Germany (+2.7 million) and the UK (+1.7 million). The top 5 of the annual growth rates in terms of homes passed is headed by Belgium (+155 per cent), Serbia (+110 per cent), Germany (+66 per cent), UK (+65 per cent) and Ireland (+49 per cent).
This year, a key milestone has been reached, as FTTH/B Coverage in EU39 now amounts to more than half of total homes. By September 2020, EU39 reached a 52.5 per cent coverage of FTTH/B networks while EU27+UK sits at 43.8 per cent, compared to respectively 49.9 per cent and 39.4 per cent in 2019. This shows a clear upward trend from the September 2015 figures when the coverage was at 39.8 per cent in EU39 and 27.2 per cent in EU27+UK.
The number of FTTH and FTTB subscribers in Europe increased by 16.6 per cent in EU39 in the year since September 2019 with 81.9 million FTTH/B subscribers in September 2020. Russia still plays a major role in this increase, however, it is interesting to note that the EU27+UK experienced a 20.4 per cent increase on its own.
This year, the country adding the most subscribers is located in Western Europe. France added 2.787.000 new FTTH/B subscriptions, whereas Russia came second adding 1.681.000 new FTTH/B subscribers. Spain rounds out the top 3 with 1.436.000 new FTTH/B subscribers. Other countries also experienced an outstanding increase in their number of subscribers such as Turkey (+ 718.000) and Germany (+ 694.000).
By September 2020, the EU39 FTTH/B take-up4 rate raised to 44.9 per cent in comparison to the 43 per cent rate registered by September 2019. For the third consecutive year, the take-up rate for EU27+UK surpasses the EU39’s one by reaching 46.9 per cent (as opposed to 43.3 per cent in September 2019).
Fibre technologies have been continuously evolving during the last few years with a predominance of FTTH architecture over FTTB (63 per cent vs 37 per cent). Alternative Internet Service Providers are still constituting the largest part of FTTH/B players, with a contribution of around 57 per cent of the total fibre expansion. It is interesting to note that many countries where legacy infrastructure still dominates have modified their strategy deploying more FTTH solutions, migrating from existing copper-based and cable-based networks towards fibre and are even intensifying copper switch-off. Nevertheless, three historically copper-strong countries (UK, Germany and Italy) are accounting for almost 60 per cent of homes left to be passed with fibre in the EU27+UK region. . The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in turn, has demonstrated the necessity of both FTTH deployments and adoption. The governments and local authorities are increasingly involved in the digital transformation, introducing revised national programmes, subsidies and relevant policy framework to promote fibre expansion.
“The telecoms sector can play a critical role in Europe’s ability to meet its sustainability commitments by reshaping how Europeans work, live and do business. As the most sustainable telecommunication infrastructure technology, full fibre is a prerequisite to achieve the European Green Deal and make the European Union’s economy more sustainable. Competitive investments in this technology should, therefore, remain a high political priority and we look forward to working with the EU institutions, national governments and NRAs towards removing barriers in a way to full-fibre Europe,” said Vincent Garnier, Director General of the FTTH Council Europe.