The number of fibre-to the home (FTTH) and fibre to the building (FTTB) subscribers in Europe increased by 19 per cent over the first nine months of 2015, to reach nearly 36 million, according to the FTTH panorama unveiled at the FTTH Conference 2016 in Luxembourg.
Meanwhile, the number of homes passed increased by 17 per cent, to reach nearly 127 million across the 39 countries included in the study (EU39) – from Iceland in the west to Russia in the east.
That growth isn’t as fast as in 2014, when the rate was 60 per cent (see European incumbents wake up to FTTH). That’s only to be expected as the market matures, says analyst firm Idate, which prepares the study for the FTTH Council Europe.
Russia is still the largest market in the region with more than 15 million subscribers, but some countries deserve a special mention.
Spain had the largest number of new subscribers, growing at a rate of 65 per cent over the nine-month period to reach 2.6 million subscribers. (In fact, Spain topped 3 million subscribers by the end of 2015, according to the Spanish telecoms regulator.)
France and Romania were not far behind with 2.4 million and 2.3 million subscribers, respectively, at the end of September 2015.
Three new countries passed the one per cent threshold to enter the FTTH Ranking: Croatia, Germany and Poland.
Germany’s progress in the league table was not due to the incumbent, but the result of fibre projects led by municipalities and smaller private players such as Deutsche Glasfaser.
In terms of penetration, Lithuania is still number one in the ranking with a subscriber penetration rate of 36.8 per cent. However, Latvia in second place has 36.2 per cent, and Sweden in third with 35.2 per cent, are both stepping up deployment and could challenge Lithuania in future.
Luxembourg, host country of the conference, also reported good progress, increasing the number of FTTH/B subscribers by almost three points to 14.1 per cent at the end of September 2015.
The Luxembourg government has set the ambitious objective for gigabit broadband for everyone by 2020. Operator POST Luxembourg has rolled out FTTH to about half the country so far, one of the highest coverage levels in Europe for an incumbent – albeit in a country with a population of only half a million.
“We are glad to witness such progress, including three new countries entering our FTTH ranking,” said Edgar Aker, President of the FTTH Council Europe. “Europe is now well positioned to stimulate FTTH roll-out, the only future-proof broadband solution.”
Several European countries still holding back on their fibre deployments, he points out. Austria, Ireland and Belgium connected less than 4,000 new FTTH/B customers during the first nine months of 2015.
Even though the United Kingdom connected 26,000 new FTTH/B subscribers, the country still lags behind the rest of Europe, and has yet to reach the qualifying 1 per cent threshold to join the ranking.