EU-wide FTTH roll-out would cost €156 billion, report claims, as Spain leads subscriber growth

The FTTH Council has revealed that it would cost €156 billion to make FTTH technology reach 100 percent of homes in Europe, as the number of subscribers grew 33 percent in the 12 months to September 2016.

The industry body said the figure, which factors in 50 percent penetration, includes existing coverage.

However, the re-use of existing infrastructure and implementation of the EU’s Cost Reduction Directive – a range of proposals including equipping new builds with fibre and simplifying permit processes – could reduce the cost by 12 percent to €137 billion, it noted.

The FTTH Council made the claim as it revealed new figures that showed Spain added the largest number of FTTH/B subscribers in Europe between September 2015 and September 2016.

The country increased subscriptions by around two million or 72 percent to 4.5 million, while the number of homes passed by fibre grew by six million or 34 percent to 22.6 million – also the best performance in Europe.

The figures, compiled by France-based think tank IDATE, showed the total number of FTTH/B subscribers in the EU grew 33 percent to 20.5 million, representing a penetration rate of 9.4 percent.

The number of homes passed increased 30 percent to 75 million, representing a coverage rate of 33 percent.

In terms of homes passed, particularly fast growth was seen in markets such as Poland where the figure rose 94 percent to around two million.

Homes passed in Bulgaria rose 40 percent to around 2.7 million, while in Italy there was 39 percent rise to 3.8 million.

In France subscriptions rose 32 percent to 3.2 million, in Portugal 44 percent to 1.1 million and Finland 68 percent to 0.6 million.

In terms of penetration, Latvia was the leading European country with 45 percent or 380,000 subscribers.

Worldwide, the fibre leader is the United Arab Emirates with 93.7 percent penetration.

Due to IDATE changing the end of the reporting period to September in 2015, there are no directly comparable year-on-year figures available.

However, Roland Montagne, Head of Broadband Practice at IDATE, told European Communications that the figures are encouraging.

He said that an “inflection point” had been reached in terms of growth in subscribers since the beginning of 2016, with the Spain figure as showing that “when fibre is there, adoption is coming”.

He also highlighted the fact that growth in subscribers was still outpacing homes passed as a key win for the industry.

“First you deploy, then you are waiting for the subscription,” Montagne said. “The gap in the figures shows that commercial success is happening.”

Montagne said that the higher figures in the homes passed were due to better financial situations at operators, with growth in video consumption in particular across all networks driving the need to roll out fibre.

The report was unveiled at the FTTH Conference in Marseille, where FTTH Council Europe President Ronan Kelly said that the industry had “made huge progress” but that there was more to do.

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