'Broadband for all' target achieved says EU

The European Commission says it has achieved the objective of delivering basic broadband coverage to all by 2013, and is making good progress on other targets outlined in the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE). However, roll out of high-speed broadband in rural areas still lags behind.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said, “Most Europeans now live digital lives and they are hungry for more. We have solved the internet access problem. But the digital skills gap persists. Unless we all do more, we will face a digitally illiterate underclass in Europe.”

Coverage of next-generation access (NGA) technologies has doubled since 2010, according to the data. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of EU households have access to broadband connections capable of delivering at least 30 Mbps download speeds. These so-called next generation access (NGA) technologies include VDSL, cable DOCSIS 3.0 and FTTP.

At the end of 2013, cable DOCSIS 3.0 had the largest NGA coverage at 41.2%, followed by VDSL (31.2%) and FTTP (14.5%). Over the past year, the NGA coverage increased by eight percentage points, equaling 20.5 million additional households covered by high-speed NGA broadband technologies compared to 2012.

In 2013, VDSL was the fastest growing NGA technology (up from 24.9% in 2012) with upgrades of cable networks to DOCSIS 3.0 nearly complete and FTTP coverage increasing by only two percentage points. The Commission says this clearly demonstrates the shift in broadband strategy in many member states, where companies are focusing on upgrading of existing copper networks rather than on the more costly deployment of fiber-optic cables all the way to consumers’ homes.

Malta, Belgium, and the Netherlands are close to full NGA coverage. NGA coverage continues to be high (over 90%) in Latvia and Lithuania due to continued FTTP deployment, whereas VDSL and cable DOCSIS 3.0 are behind the high NGA coverage in Malta, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Italy, Greece, and Croatia lag in NGA coverage with less than a third of households having access to high-speed broadband in each of the countries.

CNMC Reports Growth in Spanish FTTH market

Spanish FTTH broadband Market shows significant and promising growth as per the latest reports published by the telecom regulator CNMC. High speed broadband market has grown by 5.9 percent while the FTTH segment showed a growth of 84.7 percent. Broadband over Hybrid Fiber Co-axial segment showed negative growth. CNMC analyzed the data from January 2013 to January 2014.

The regulator's data shows that the total number of fixed connections in Spain has become 12.31 million for the broadband. This corresponds to 5.9 percent growth from previous year. Spanish fiber optic market is one of the active markets in Europe. Major telecom service providers such as Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone, Jazztel etc have been progressing well with their fiber optic network expansions across the country.

To stimulate the broadband market and speed up the deployment at the last mile, the telecom regulator had initiated measures to share the broadband infrastructures among service providers. Though there are concerns of monopolistic attitude of major telecom operators in the market, telecom regulator has ensured effective intervention and involvement in each and every business proposal to make the competition healthier and reasonable. In an open telecom market such as that of Spain's regulators need to focus on bringing more opportunities that would force the competitors to co-operate.

The current growth in FTTH subscribers in Spain is a result of the measures taken by the telecom regulator CNMC (former CMT is now part of CNMC). Activities and functions of former Commission for the Telecommunications Market are now integrated in the new National Commission of Markets and Competition.

A total of 39,485 new FTTH subscribers have been added to become 77,974 broadband subscribers. 27,601 new DSL subscribers and 10,888 new HFC subscribers were also added to the list.

As per CNMC's updates, there are 12,307,947 broadband subscribers. The regulator groups the broadband subscribers in to three categories such as DSL ( Digital Subscriber Line), HFC (Hybrid Fiber Co-axial) and FTTH (Fiber to the Home). DSL subscribers are grown by 4.3 percent and currently there are more than 9,616,776 (more than 9.6 million) subscribers. Telefonica alone has more than 5 million DSL customers. Telefonica's DSL customers have reduced by 3.4 percent, while other service providers could attract more customers to their DSL offers. DSL subscriber base was increased by 14.6 percent with Non-Telefonica providers.

There was a slight reduction in HFC customer base too. Current Spanish HFC subscribers are 2,036,623 numbers. This corresponds to a decrease of 0.7 percent. On the other hand FTTH segment shows a significant growth of 84.7 percent to reach a total of 654,548. Out of this Telefonica alone claims to have 643,197 subscribers. There are only 21,351 subscribers signed up with service providers other than Telefonica. Telefonica's FTTH subscriber segment showed a growth of 83.4 percent while the growth was 131 percent with other service providers, indicating that some of the Telefonica DSL subscribers might have opted for FTTH services offered by Non-Telefonica service providers.