Huawei CEO Eric Xu has likened ultra-fast broadband to the iPhone, in that only once the tech has been pushed into the market will the demand for it take off.

Speaking at Huawei’s annual Ultra-broadband Forum in Spain this week, Xu said that a lack of killer applications meant operators were hesitant to invest in technologies such as FTTH, adding there was “no answer” regarding the applications it ultimately could be used to deliver.

According to the CEO, 4K video-on-demand will be the “main driver” for the development of fibre and other ultra-fast broadband technologies.

Xu said: "Providing a differentiated video experience will become an important opportunity for operators to fully leverage their advantages in network infrastructure.

“4K TV sets and 4K set top boxes are increasingly popular as more 4K content becomes available.”

However, he added that this requires operators first take the plunge financially.

“In order to meet customer demand…operators first need to build a network with high bandwidth and low latency. Only in this way can we capture the new opportunities here.”

And there’s the rub. Operators continue to be hesitant in building FTTH networks amid continued uncertainty over the RoI they provide.

According to the FTTH Council Europe, there were 12.3 million subscribers as of December 2014 across the EU’s 28 countries.

[Read more: FTTH still in search of its "big bang"]

Video was a central theme at the Madrid-based forum, with delegates keen to demonstrate their commitment to the rapidly-growing VoD market.

Huawei revealed a new video evaluation system called U-vMOS, aimed at ensuring the quality and performance of video services by operators.

The company said U-vMOS would provide a more comprehensive evaluation system to monitor users’ video experiences on different networks, screens and environments.

Meanwhile, a no-show from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings meant attendees were denied a glimpse into the future plans of the US’ company’s service.

However, Mihai Crasneanu, CEO of GreyJuiceLab, offered an insight into why the company remained so far ahead of telcos in the battle for consumers’ televisions.

Crasneau suggested that operators had “no real knowledge” about content and were therefore unwilling to make the “massive investments” necessary to put forward a compelling TV offering.

He said: “It’s like a joke - you can’t tell just half of it. Content has to be all or nothing.”

Huawei also plugged its TV aggregation platform, which it this week announced would be coming to Europe in Q4.

The OTT service, which is already available in the Middle East and China, allows users to stream digital content from a range of different service providers.

Huawei is setting up a Smart Video Cloud centre in Europe, where it hopes to build up a digital video ecosystem containing content from various service providers.

Content will initially be delivered through the distribution channels of those partnering with Huawei for the service.

However, the vendor said the long-term strategic goal was be to build its own channels through its smartphones, a Huawei app store and Huawei set-top-box.

Huawei will focus on video to begin with and later plans to add mobile gaming to the mix.

[Read more: Services, not devices, key to connected home, forum hears]

According to Xu, fibre is not just a boon for consumers. The CEO said the tech would become a linchpin for businesses as they moved toward cloud networks as well.

“Enterprises are changing from purchasing IT equipment to purchasing cloud services, which also creates new requirements for the network infrastructure. In that context, fibre-to-the-enterprise becomes a basic requirement."

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