VALENCIA, SPAIN – The number of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) subscribers in Europe increased by 20.4 percent since September 2016 with more than 51.6 million FTTH/B subscribers in September 2017 for EU39. The take-up rate also soared to 34.8 percent for EU39 from 29.9 percent the previous year. This is according to the recently released figures of the FTTH Market Panorama prepared by IDATE for the FTTH Council Europe.

Market Panorama and Key Findings

  • The significant increase in new subscribers from September 2016 to September 2017 was in Russia, which added 1,826,000 new FTTH/B subscribers. Spain also experienced a considerable growth with 1,612,371 new FTTH/B subscribers along with France which added 1,067,780 new subscribers.
  • The number of homes passed (homes connected with FTTH/B) in EU39 increased dramatically to reach more than 148 million representing a growth of 16 percent compared to September 2016. To be noted also that take-up in EU28 reached 32.4 percent.
  • The new market panorama shows that in the European region, private players (former incumbents and alternative operators) are deploying more FTTx networks (56% of the total players) in comparison to other players such as public operators and power utilities. Another notable trend is the evolution of fiber technologies over the last year, which revealed a predominance of the FTTH architecture over FTTB (55 percent vs 45 percent by September 2017).
  • Also of interest is that more alternative operators are deploying FTTH/B, with a contribution of about 54 percent of the total FTTH/B players.
  • Finally, a differentiation appears between the “total of homes passed” which are counted once, independently from the number of operators which cover them, and the “total of sockets deployed,” reflecting the total effort made by players to deploy their own fiber networks. The Market Panorama indicates that with more numerous players investing in their own infrastructure in the recent years, it is becoming more common that two or more players reach the same specific household. France and Spain are leaders in this field.

Commenting on these new data, Ronan Kelly, president of the FTTH Council said, “The findings of the Market Panorama are quite telling, we are now all looking towards the same goal of a fiber rich gigabit society. We obviously commend the front-runners for their impressive and continuous progress towards FTTH/B but we are also very encouraged by the new trend of operators in countries which do not typically demonstrate a strong appetite for fibre, starting to get involved more intensively in FTTH/B projects. The structure of the market is also changing with the apparition of new types of stakeholders with innovative business models fostering infrastructure competition and making new investments.”

FTTH Ranking
Latvia still leading the race of European FTTH penetration. Latvia is a confirmed leader in FTTH/B, championing the ranking for another year at 50.6 percent household penetration. Both Sweden (43.4 percent) and Lithuania (42.6 percent) remain on the podium confirming the growth from previous years.

Ireland joins the Global FTTH Ranking
This year, Ireland makes its entry to the Global ranking, reaching a penetration rate of 1.7 percent and a take-up rate of 9.6 percent. By September 2017 and in comparison to September 2016, Ireland has increased by 73 percent its FTTH/B subscriber base (29,446 subscribers) and by 254 percent its FTTH/B Homes Passed presence in the total Irish homes (306,285 homes passed).

The Irish government has played a tremendous role in expanding super-fast broadband networks across all areas of Ireland, although in recent times the need for adjustment of the tools being used to promote deployment have emerged. Ireland launched a National Broadband Plan in 2012 with a view to increasing connectivity in rural areas, providing high-speed Internet services to at least 30 percent of premises and offering a universal broadband speed of 30 Mbps by the end of 2022. During 2017 two of the major bidders, citing challenges with the economics of the plan, withdrew from the process.

Despite this, Eir, the former incumbent operator and SIRO, the joint-venture between Vodafone and the power utility ESB are continuing their deployments of fiber access networks across the country and remain the most active investors in FTTH/B in Ireland, followed by Magnet Networks, Digiweb and Enet.