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Inventory of FTTH/B in Europe

More than sixteen percent increase in the number of subscribers for FTTH/B in Europe in first half 2012

World FTTx Markets

Europe (EU-35)[1] reported a solid 16% increase in the number of FTTH/B subscribers during first half 2012. FTTH/B coverage continues to progress fast in Europe with a growth of 16% in the period. There were nearly 5.95 million FTTH/B subscribers in the EU-35 at mid-2012, and around 32 million homes passed.

Main European economies are now on tracks for FTTH/B: Turkey presents a 82% growth in terms of subscribers in first half 2012, and other countries, even considered as mature markets show very interesting growth rates (+31% in the Netherlands, +23% in Norway). Spain is progressing with 44% increase in the number of subscribers and then entering the FTTH Global Ranking[2]. Another country is entering this ranking at mid-2012: Luxembourg, where the government have very ambitious objectives that will probably be reached on time (80% of the households passed with 100 Mbps at end 2013, 100% at end 2015).

Among CIS countries, because of its specific demographic features, Russia leads the way in terms of FTTH/B subscribers and homes passed – and the potential of the Russian market is huge, with 5.2 million FTTH/B subscribers and 15.8 million homes passed at mid-2012. Ukraine is also home of more than a million FTTH/B subscribers (+85% increase during first semester 2012), and we expect to see new players becoming involved in FTTH/B deployments in the near future.

As in previous years, IDATE has been commissioned by the FTTH Council Europe to provide an overview of the status of FTTH/B rollouts across Europe at mid-2012. To date, IDATE has identified around 260 FTTH/B projects in the EU-35.
The first type of player to become involved in FTTH/B deployments was alternative carriers which singlehandedly account for 51% of FTTH/B homes passed in Europe. Alternative carriers have performed rollouts in France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and in Eastern Europe (Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria).

We include cable companies in this category as they are often involved in large-scale FTTB network rollouts – with examples that include Numericable in France. Cablecos have the advantage of not having to negotiate building-by-building to access homes since the coaxial outlet is already installed plus, in a great many instances, the civil engineering to pull the fibre to the foot of the building has already been performed.

Another category of stakeholder is local authorities and regional power companies (which are often owned by public authorities). While this category represents only 11% of homes passed for fibre at mid-2012, it accounts for the largest number of FTTH/B projects, most of which are small scale ones – covering only a local territory. Their involvement will probably increase in other countries such as Italy and France.

The other category of player worth mentioning is incumbent carriers which account for 37% of FTTH/B homes passed in Europe. Virtually all of Europe’s incumbent carriers are either now involved in FTTH/B rollouts, are gearing up to it or are in the planning stages. The increase in the part of incumbents in the number of homes passed is partly due to the involvement of Spanish Telefonica. Even those who originally opted for an FTTN+VDSL solution, such as KPN, Swisscom and Deutsche Telecom, are turning their attention to FTTH – in many cases as a result of the growing competitive pressure created by cable companies’ and local authorities’ fibre initiatives.

In the UK, BT has changed its FTTH strategy several times. After having announced in 2011 a very ambitious objective in terms of FTTH coverage (2.5 million HP at end 2012), it finally turned back afterwards and decided to expand FTTN to FTTH only "on demand". This solution will be available in Spring 2013, after a two-phases pilot.

There has been a noticeable change in the list of leading countries during first half 2012: France is now ahead from Sweden. Indeed, excluding Russia and Ukraine, which lead the FTTH/B market in terms of subscribers and homes/buildings passed thanks to their demographic make-up (respectively 5.2 and 1 million FTTH/B subscribers), France now counts more than 764,000 FTTH/B subscribers (+15% between December 2011 and June 2012) when Sweden stand at 688,000 subscribers (+6% in the same period). The Swedish market is beginning to show signs of large maturity and the potential for further growth is less and less important from one semester to another in the country.

However, Scandinavian countries, and notably Sweden and Norway, still lead the way in Europe in terms of penetration rate – with 40.3% and 67.1%, respectively. Nevertheless it is now in Eastern Europe where we found also high penetration rates: Czech Republic with 45.3%, Hungary with 37.4%, Russia with 33.3% and Lithuania with 29.5%.But the situation across Europe as a whole is still quite disparate as countries like Italy or France are still reporting low penetration rates (12.7% and 12.2%, respectively, lower than the EU-35 average which reaches 18.6%).

Regarding the technology deployed, Ethernet is still players’ first choice across the EU-39, and represented 78% of all FTTH/B rollouts at mid-2012.

As concerns network architecture, FTTB still accounted for 62% of rollouts at mid-2012. Players are favouring an FTTB configuration as it allows them to avoid the issues that come with installing fibre on private property, and especially MDUs – i.e. having to negotiate with each property owner.

Director of Studies, Telecoms Business Unit, IDATE

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[1] The term EU-35 refers to the EU-27 countries –Cyprus + Andorra, Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey.
The EU-39 refers to the EU-35 + the four CIS Countries: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia.

[2] The FTTH Global Ranking is based on the FTTH Council's definition of FTTH/B. It includes both Fiber to the Home (FTTH), and Fiber to the Building (FTTB). The Ranking covers all countries with at least 200,000 households where the penetration of FTTH/B has reached 1% of the total number of homes.



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