Head of Research, Telecoms Business Unit, IDATE
Deployment costs & access market revenue in Europe
The goals set by the European Commission for ultra-fast broadband (UFB) are ambitious. By 2020, they aim to provide all European households with ubiquitous coverage of 30 Mbps and 50% of households with 100 Mbps access.
Cost of NGN deployment for reaching the goals of the DAE
NGN deployments are underway in all countries of the European Union but are progressing at very different rates from one country to the other. Some governments have created national programs that lay down their own goals to try and accelerate deployments, through both private operators and public players. IDATE has published a report in which NGN deployment costs have been modeled according to various scenarios. We will look closely at three of these: the "Base Case" scenario, which considers a gradual evolution of current NGN access; the "Vectoring" scenario, which anticipates improvements in copper-based technologies to reach the speeds laid out by the DAE; and the "FTTH" scenario, in which FTTH/B would be deployed on a massive scale and would provide the most future-proof performance in terms of speed. This last scenario is itself analyzed according to two different options (90% or 100% FTTH coverage), which lead to significantly different costs. The cumulative costs of these scenarios between 2011 and 2020 range from 71 to 230 billion EUR.
Cost comparison of NGN deployment scenarios en Europe
Revenues tied to the UFB access market
In parallel, IDATE has also conducted a study to evaluate the value of the UFB access market. This study is based on a thorough analysis of UFB services offered by key players in markets that represent different degrees of UFB maturity. This analysis allows us to identify different types of delivery model that may include one or more goals (maintaining positioning, increasing ARPU, reducing churn, unbundling withdrawal, etc.). The commercial positioning of operators will thus match a given delivery type that will depend on the level of competition, in particular. From there, it is possible to determine what the trends will be in terms of UFB ARPU over the coming years and thus assess one of the two key variables of access revenue. The other variable is the number of UFB subscribers, which should continue to grow relatively steadily through 2020 if we take all technologies into account. According to our estimates, the UFB access market is expected to reach 48 billion EUR by 2020.
Costs vs. revenues: Which scenario should we prioritize?
Despite some very interesting revenue potential (combined revenues exceed the cost of the most expensive scenario by 2020), the FTTH scenario is not really feasible (regardless of the coverage option considered) because cable operators—whose infrastructures offer faster speeds, are less expensive to upgrade and offer very good performance—will continue to play a major role in this market. The Base Case scenario seems to be a more feasible option in that it represents a continuation of what currently exists, namely a combination of technologies and accelerating deployment. However, it also presents risks, particularly the possibility of slow migration of broadband subscribers to UFB. Whichever scenario is implemented, operators will still need to invest significantly in deployment while reserving some investment for generating demand, without which their expected revenues cannot be achieved.