Study: 172m Euro FTTH homes

April 23, 2020

The FTTH Council Europe has revealed the 2020 Market Panorama and the latest figures outlining fibre deployment trends in Europe prepared by research institute IDATE.

Market Panorama & key findings:

The total number of homes passed with Fibre to the Home (FTTH) and Fibre to the Building (FTTB) in the EU39 reached nearly 172 million homes compared to 160 million in 2018 with now 19 countries counting more than 2 million homes passed. The main movers in terms of homes passed in absolute numbers are France (+3,5 M), Italy (+1,9 M) and Spain (+1,5 M). The top 5 of the annual growth rates in terms of homes passed is headed by Belgium (+307 per cent), Ireland (+70.4 per cent), Switzerland (+69.1 per cent), United Kingdom (+50.8 per cent) and Germany (33.5 per cent).

The coverage of both FTTH and FTTB networks in September 2019 was almost 50 per cent. By September 2019, EU39 reached a 49.9 per cent coverage of FTTH/B networks while EU28 39.4 per cent, compared to respectively 46.4 per cent and 36.4 per cent in 2018. 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 EU28.

The number of FTTH and FTTB subscribers in Europe increased by 15.0 per cent in EU39 since September 2018 with 70.4 million FTTH/B subscribers in September 2019. Russia still plays a major role in this increase, however, it is interesting to note that the EU28 experienced a 20.9 per cent increase on its own.

This year, the country adding the most subscribers is located in Western Europe. France added 1.923.000 new FTTH/B subscriptions and Spain came second adding 1.650.820 new FTTH/B subscribers. Other countries also experienced an outstanding increase in their number of subscribers such as Greece (+285 per cent), Ireland (+185 per cent), Switzerland (+176 per cent), Belgium (+111 per cent) and Italy (+45.3 per cent).

By September 2019, the EU39 FTTH/B take-up rate elevated to 40.9 per cent in comparison to the 37.4 per cent rate registered by September 2018. For the second consecutive year, the take-up rate for EU28 surpasses the EU39’s one by reaching 43.3 per cent (as opposed to 38.2 per cent in September 2018).

According to the Council, it is interesting to note that fibre technologies have been continuously evolving during the last few years with a predominance of FTTH architecture over FTTB (60 per cent vs 40 per cent). Alternative Internet Service Providers are still constituting the largest part of FTTH/B players, with a contribution of around 56 per cent of the total fibre expansion. 41 per cent of homes are passed by former incumbent operators. This number will also evolve as some of the latter 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. The role of governments and local authorities is also increasing, either directly by signing agreements with telecom players, or via public funds.

“Ubiquitous and reliable digital infrastructure has never played such a crucial role as today connecting families, enabling business activities and working from home,” stated Erzsébet Fitori, Director General of the FTTH Council Europe. “Very high capacity connectivity is not only mission critical in times of crisis but will also be fundamental for economic recovery and the transition towards a sustainable, green EU economy. Competitive investments in very high capacity networks should, therefore, remain a high political priority and we look forward to working with the EU institutions, national governments and NRAs towards removing bureaucratic and other barriers from the way of network deployment. Access to very high capacity networks faster and more cost efficiently benefits everyone!”

In terms of European FTTH/B Ranking, Iceland dethrones Latvia and tops European FTTH penetration ranking with a 65,9 per cent penetration rate. Latvia lands fifth (53,9 per cent).

Iceland becomes a leader in FTTH/B, championing the ranking followed by Belarus (62,8 per cent). Sweden (56.8 per cent) reclaims the third position from Spain (54.3 per cent) and assumes the last spot on the podium of fibre leaders.

It is worth mentioning that Belgium has significantly stepped up its efforts to deploy fibre with an increase of 307 per cent in FTTH/B homes passed and of 111 per cent in new subscribers. However, in 2020, for the first time in years, no new country has managed to enter the FTTH/B European ranking.

In the German broadband market, FTTH/B currently represents 7 per cent of total broadband connections. The fixed broadband market remains largely dominated by copper-based technologies (52 per cent) and cable-based services. However, the BMVI (Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) launched a national programme that aims to build a ‘Gigabit Society’ in Germany by 2025.

By September 2019, Germany reached more than 4.1 million homes passed with FTTH/B and nearly 1.35 million FTTH/B subscribers. Though Germany remains quite low in the European ranking with a penetration rate of 3.3 per cent, the number of fibre subscriptions grew by 42 per cent (compared to 18 per cent in September 2018) and the number of homes passed with FTTH/B by 34 per cent (compared to 15 per cent last year).

“The data of this new edition of our Market Panorama confirm the trend that fibre roll-outs are taking place at an increasingly faster pace in Europe.” commented Kees de Waard, President of the FTTH Council Europe. “The implementation of the new European Electronic Communications Code and in particular of its Very-High Capacity Networks provision will be essential to meet the ambitions of a Gigabit connected Society in Europe, of which FTTH/B networks, which are the only future-proof infrastructure, are the foundations.”

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