Europe has entered in the “Fibre age”!


Valerie Chaillou
Senior Consultant, IDATE DigiWorld

After a very dynamic year of growth at +19%, the trend seems to be confirmed…



The 9 first months of 2015 confirmed the trend of the previous year: the increase is there and confirms that Europe has entered in the “Fibre age”! There were no noticeable events towards FTTH/B since January 2015 but the growth now seems to be structural. We counted more than 35.9 million FTTH/B subscribers and nearly 127 million FTTH/B Homes Passed in EU39 at September 2015. Those figures represent respective growths of 19% and 17% in 9 months.

A part from Russia which represents the largest part of FTTH/B subscribers (42% of total number of subscribers), the other largest markets are Spain, France, Romania, (7% of the total number of subscribers each) then Turkey, Sweden and Ukraine. Of course, the demographic characteristics of those countries and the national maturity of the FTTH/B market will have an impact on this kind of ranking in the coming years.

Thanks to the tremendous increase in coverage during 2014, Spain is identified as the most dynamic market during the first 9 months of 2015, with 65% growth in the number of subscribers. France is also once again among the main markets in terms of new subscribers, with a growth reaching 31%, to compare to an average growth rate of 19%. Interesting to note that Luxembourg shows a growth rate of 27%, which is also very significant compared to the average one. However, we have to note that, even if the increase is high in a country, this does not always mean that the market is huge (cf in the UK where the growth rate reaches 60% in 9 months but the number of subscribers is still lower than 100,000).

In terms of coverage, the countries with the highest growths are different. The average growth rate is 17% and few leading markets show a higher growth: +26% in Russia, + 18% in Spain…but “only” +9% in France… The coverage increased much more in smaller countries such as Slovakia (+51%), Norway (+39%), Ireland (+46%) and Switzerland (+61%). We can also mention countries such as Poland (+59% growth in number of HP) and Luxembourg, showing a growth rate in coverage of 27%, 10 points higher than the average!

In terms of players involved in FTTH/B projects, alternative carriers are still leading the way, representing a 51% of the total homes passed in EU39 at September 2015. Their representativeness has decreased significantly compared to December 2011 where they covered 71% of the total number of Homes Passed in the region.

The number of local authorities launching FTTH/B rollout projects on their territory has also decreased during the period, even if there are more and more numerous to get involved. This really confirms that the involvement of those players is very important to ensure exhaustive coverage but that they will only deploy in very limited areas, corresponding to their territory. Their approach and strategy is of course different from private players’ strategy…

Then, of course, incumbents are important players in all European countries. They represent 45% of HP in EU39 at September 2015, compared to 21% at end 2011! During the previous years, we have noted the growing involvement of incumbents and now, in all countries, incumbents are involved in at least small FTTH/B projects. Of course, some are still focusing on other FTTx architectures but all consider that FTTH has to be part of their catalogue, in one way or another.

Regarding the technology and the architecture deployed, we have not noted any changes during the 9 first months of 2015: Ethernet is still players’ first choice across the EU39, representing 66% of all FTTH/B rollouts and most deployments concerned FTTH which represents 41% of homes passed at September 2015.

Number of FTTH/B subscribers per country in Europe (countries with more than 200 K subscribers)


Source: IDATE DigiWorld for FTTH Council Europe

Number of FTTH/B homes passed per country in Europe (countries with more than a million homes passed)


Source: IDATE DigiWorld  for FTTH Council Europe

IDATE publishes a half-yearly updated FTTx observatory, gathering qualitative and quantitative data of 70 countries and +150 players – see details online

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