FTTH Council Europe calls for fibre take-up boost
November 19, 2021
By Colin Mann
The European Commission recently published its Digital Economy and Society Index 2021 (DESI) which tracks the progress made in EU Member States in digital competitiveness in the areas of human capital, broadband connectivity, the integration of digital technologies by businesses and digital public services.
First of all, the FTTH Council Europe welcomes that the 2021 DESI has been adjusted to reflect major policy initiatives including the 2030 Digital Compass: the European Way for the Digital Decade.
According to the Council, this is a significant step towards consistency as it will make results more comparable over the years and improve the accuracy of the figures.
On connectivity, the European Commission highlights an improvement in ‘very high-capacity networks’ (VHCN), which are now available in 59 per cent of the households in the EU, up from 50 per cent a year ago. These data are also consistent with the acceleration of the market foreseen by the FTTH Council Europe’s market forecasts 2021-2026, which report that full fibre is expected to be available to 80 per cent of European households within five years.
This positive trend should not overshadow that the connectivity issue is now transferring to the end-users’ perspective. With around 45 per cent take-up today, the FTTH Council Europe calls on policy-makers to consider some measures to maximise the potential from full fibre investments.
- Copper switch-off: Plans for the retirement of copper are essential as copper switch-off will also play a major role in the uptake of VHCN and full fibre in particular. This transition needs to be prepared so that no citizen or business is left behind
- The digitalisation of public services is crucial as recognised by the European Commission’s four cardinal points. Combined with demand-side measures such as vouchers, it can be a strong incentive for citizens to take up full fibre services
- Fulfilling the objectives of the twin (green and digital) transitions is also likely to have an impact on full fibre take-up. Fibre is the most future-proof and energy-efficient technology and is key to align the digital and sustainability agendas
Therefore, the FTTH Council Europe believes that policy-makers should give consideration to changing relevant public policies away from technology neutrality to a principle that is clearly full fibre positive.