Director of Studies, Telecoms Business Unit, IDATE
Inventory of FTTH/B in Europe
Europe (EU-35) reported a solid 15% increase in the number of FTTH/B subscribers during second half 2012. FTTH/B coverage continues to progress fast in Europe with a growth of 12% in the period. There were nearly 7.3 million FTTH/B subscribers in the EU-35 at mid-2012, and 33.8 million homes passed.
During 2012, several countries showed a real dynamism both in terms of coverage and take up rates. Turkey is leading the Top 5 dynamic countries in terms of percentage of new subscribers in the total FTTH/B subscribers' basis, along with Ukraine, Spain, Bulgaria and Russia. The positioning of Spain -only Western European country present in the list- should be noted as the country has entered the European ranking only a few months ago and is facing an important economic downturn. The success of FTTH/B is therefore reinforced in such a tricky context.
Elsewhere in Europe, pioneering Scandinavian countries, sometimes already considered as mature, are still leading the European market. In Denmark, FTTH/B market growth is now higher than the mobile market growth. In Finland, FTTH/B connections are more and more considered as a utility and therefore often included in the apartment monthly rental. In Sweden, new services are benefiting from a large FTTH/B coverage and an important take up rate: customers used to subscribe to a FTTH/B connection to be able to reach e-governance services provided by national entities and they are now turning to other services such as Video On Demand… finally, FTTH/B is a driver for video entertainment!
On the other hand, Italy, which was also a pioneer in FTTH/B rollouts, is beginning to lag behind. Some projects involving several players have been announced but none of them has entered into operation. The strategy unveiled by the incumbent doesn't put a strong accent on FTTH/B. The increase in terms of subscribers during 2012 is one of the lowest in Europe (10%), but the potential is still large (12.7% take up rate at end 2012, far from the EU35 average of 21.6%).
In terms of players involved in FTTH/B projects, there was no upheaval in 2012. Alternative carriers are still leading the way, representing half of the total homes passed in EU35 at end 2012 (nearly 71% considering EU39).
The number of local authorities launching FTTH/B rollout projects on their territory is increasing a little bit more rapidly than other kind of players but they still represent only some 11.6% of homes passed in EU35. However, we have noted some interesting projects in Europe held by those players, such as in the UK where rural cooperatives have succeeded in motivating citizens to be financially and/or "physically" involved in rollouts (e.g. the B4RN / Broadband For the Rural North project).
Then, of course, incumbents are main players in all European countries now; they represent 38.4% of HP in EU35 at end 2012. The quite recent involvement of Turk Telekom in Turkey has largely participated in the dynamism of the country which was clearly dominated by the competitor Turckell/Superonline until then. The competition between those telcos will probably enhance the take up rate which is still lower than the European average at end 2012 (18.7% vs 25.8%).
In the UK, the situation is totally different. The incumbent BT has decided to deploy FTTC on the national scale. FTTH (mostly referred as FTTP in the UK) will now only be deployed "on demand". BT has been really aggressive in the past year and has now reached the same level of coverage than its main competitor, the cableco VirginMedia (13 million homes passed with FTTC+VDSL). A part from local projects, we do not see a very bright future for FTTH/B in the country.
Number of FTTH/B subscribers per country in Europe
(countries with more than 200 K subscribers)
Source: IDATE for FTTH Council Europe
Source: IDATE for FTTH Council Europe
A few months ago, we didn't note important changes in the leading countries. Russia and Ukraine are the main markets, both in terms of subscribers and homes passed. This is mostly due to the demographic context in those countries, as well as the rhythm for rollout. In Russia, several players are present on the national scale (Beeline, MTS, ERTelecom, Rostelecom), enhancing competition and driving tariffs down. Moreover, end users are migrating more rapidly because previous access solutions (copper networks) were not efficient enough.
Then Sweden is still a leading FTTH/B market. E-governance is a real success there and citizens are now very confident in their FTTH/B connections to now pay for new kind of services such as Video on Demand. Other TV services (linear TV) are most of the time included in the apartment monthly rental but customers are now ready to subscribe to new kind of services that they can reach whenever they want. In Sweden, the take up rate reaches 48.4% at end 2012, largely higher than European average.
Regarding the technology deployed, Ethernet is still players’ first choice across the EU-39, and represented 78% of all FTTH/B rollouts at end 2012.
As concerns network architecture, the gap between FTTH and FTTB has increased during last semester 2012 and now FTTB architecture represents 70% of rollouts at end 2012 (compared to 62% six months earlier). Players are favouring an FTTB configuration as it allows them to avoid the issues that come with installing fibre on private property, and especially MDUs – i.e. having to negotiate with each property owner.
Director of Studies, Telecoms Business Unit, IDATE
Head of the Telecoms Business Unit at IDATE
Measuring costs for each EU-27 member state to reach the Digital Agenda in Europe
In May 2010, the European Commission adopted its Digital Agenda policy programme. It was one of the first flagship initiatives of the EU 2020 strategy. It sets ambitious targets to provide all European households with ubiquitous coverage of 30 Mbps as a minimum and half of them with a subscription of 100 Mbps by 2020. IDATE has published recently a report providing different possible cost scenarios – with a breakdown by technology and by population density (urban, peri-urban, rural).
Today, some voices are raising concerns that the goals of the Digital Agenda (DA) will not be reached in many Member States as the necessary expenditure is beyond reach, especially in the current European economic situation. This is why this report focuses in particular on the cost of the Digital Agenda in reaching the ambitious goal of coverage of 30 Mbps and 100 Mbps, and further tries to clarify, per country, what it will be. It puts forward a theoretical model with the distinction of various scenarios involving distinct technologies, namely fixed and wireless.
"In several European countries, the rollout of FTTH networks has started and the European Union disposes already of a 40% NGA net coverage amongst all its member states. Indeed, copper local loop will ultimately be replaced by fibre, it being the medium that can guarantee an almost infinite bandwidth capacity for the future. Nevertheless, good quality copper, especially in Western Europe, and the current economic situation, could lead some telcos to consider other alternative scenarios involving VDSL, LTE or even satellite in Ka band", says Roland Montagne, Director of the Telecom Business Unit at IDATE. He adds: "The adoption of a FTTH-oriented scenario by telcos will not only depend on the amount of capex necessary but also on a viable business model. On this, telcos should be innovative not only with the services they propose but also on their pricing approach (tiered pricing) and their strategy regarding smart access."
Deployment costs by scenario
- Four scenarios in different constellations have been modelled, including a full FTTH/B coverage scenario. Depending on the mix of technologies deployed, these scenarios will cost between 51 billion EUR and 229 billion EUR.
- These amounts, whilst certainly substantial, are within the expected range and therefore come as a confirmation of the ambitious nature of the broadband objectives of the DAE.
NOTE: Scenario names are chosen to reflect main technological characteristics, but do not express a preference for any given
technology to reach the broadband objectives of the Digital Agenda.
90% FTTH/B = 90% FTTH/B only + 10% LTE
Base case = FTTH/B+FTTLA+VDSL2+LTE
Vectoring = FTTH/B+FTTLA+VDSL Vectoring+VDSL2+LTE)
Wireless = LTE+FTTH/B
NGA Costs model
In order to build our theoretical model of the costs of reaching the DA goals, IDATE started by drawing up several assumptions about ‘overlapping’ in each country with the aim of establishing the ‘net’ number of FTTx homes passed, and thus the effective level of NGA coverage. Consolidating this in the EU27 gives a net NGA coverage rate of 41% of European households in late-2011. Among the four fixed NGA architectures considered (FTTH/B, FTTLA+DOCSIS 3.0, FTTN+VDSL and FTTx/LAN), regarding our estimates at that time, FTTH/B accounted for 22%, FTTN+VDSL for 25% and FTTLA+DOCSIS3.0 for 50% of the European NGA coverage.
Using these coverage estimates as a baseline, IDATE modelled the investment required for each of the 27 Member States to reach the broadband objectives of the Commission's DA. We also took into account, nevertheless, for each Member State, the national broadband or ultra-fast broadband plans already launched, with their associated objectives of coverage up to 2020.
We then considered no duplication of infrastructure in our cost model. Indeed, the model's output shows the minimum cost of reaching the DA targets by rolling out one single network per coverage area1.
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