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European fibre penetration reaches 4.5 million subscribers
Wednesday 27 October 2010 10:53:42 by John Hunt

The Fibre to the Home Council Europe have released the rankings of fibre penetration across Europe and whilst the numbers are bleak, they are increasing. Europe now has reached 3.2 million FTTH (Fibre-to-the-Home) or FTTB (Fibre-to-the-Building) subscribers (rising to nearly 4.5 million if Russia is included) with around 18 million home being passed (26 million including Russia). Eastern Europe makes up a large number of these connections with Lithuania still leading, and Slovenia and Slovakia now making up part of the top 5.

The rankings include countries in Europe where more than 1% of households subscribe to a direct fibre connection. This also includes fibre-to-the-building where the connection is distributed over a LAN.

Ranking Countries FTTH/B subs June 2010 Penetration in total HH June 2010
1 Lithuania 284,400 20.96%
2 Sweden 569,000 12.93%
3 Norway 240,689 12.03%
4 Slovenia 75,000 11.19%
5 Slovakia 192,000 8.73%
6 Denmark 195,900 7.84%
7 Estonia 31,000 5.33%
8 Bulgaria 144,000 4.97%
9 Finland 79,390 3.21%
10 Netherlands 211,500 3.02%
11 Latvia 22,200 2.48%
12 Russia 1,200,000 2.15%
13 Romania 120,000 1.58%
14 Italy 347,000 1.56%
15 France 371,312 1.46%
16 Portugal 52,500 1.35%
17 Czech Republic 50,000 1.32%

June 2010 European Rankings for FTTH/B Penetration, Source: FTTH Council Europe

Of notable omission, by not having at least 1% penetration, are the UK, Germany and Spain, but with BT Openreach moving from trial to live service next year, this could start to change in the UK at least. Three countries in particular showed rapid growth- Romania entered the rankings in 13th with more than 120,000 subscribers; Bulgaria showed the fastest progress moving from 16th to 8th in just 6 months, increasing penetration by 4% and Lithuania maintained its lead by boosting subscriber penetration by 3.3%.

"With Romania joining the Ranking, Bulgaria and Lithuania making such rapid progress as well as three other countries (Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia) increasing penetration by more than 1%, the New Member States are leading the drive for fibre to the home in Europe. If we include Russia, today the majority of FTTH/B connections are found in the Eastern part of Europe."

Chris Holden, (President) FTTH Council Europe

Comments

Posted by TheGift73 over 6 years ago
It really is embarresing to see just how behind we are when it comes to Broadband in the UK. You say that things are going to change when BT Openreach moves to a live service, but this only covers a fraction of the country. We should have completely restructured the phone system a long time ago. It's amazing that we are still reliant on a copper wired framework.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
Suspect some of the countries with better showings in terms of fibre, have the higher position due to antiquated phone networks (i.e. missed the upgrade steps the UK has followed over the years), which meant the only course of action was roll to the lastest technology.

Another is that FTTP will always sell better in areas with a poorer cable service, i.e. its TV driving sales
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@TheGift73:Not really. At least we have in excess of 95% availability to some kind of broadband. Not many countries can claim that even now.

Those EU countries are starting from 'nothing but dial-up over a decrepit barely functioning and possibly patchy network' and are still only reaching a small proportion of their population.

The UK is starting from 'One of the best telephone networks in the world with in excess of 95% availability of broadband'.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
If you're replacing a load of old rubbish it's easy to justify investing in the latest and best technology. When you're replacing something that is already doing almost everything anyone wants it's a lot harder to justify a complete rebuild.
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ AndrueC

Im sure theres a fair few people that will disagree that we have one of the best telephone networks, i.e all those people on really long copper lines or those on lines that are degrading.

However instead of recognising that some of these lines need replacing (with the latest technology), we keep trying to "Milk" ever last drop from the copper network.

Cont Below
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
Cont

Now this isn't me saying scrap copper altogether, I just think there should be there should be laws/procedures in place to gradually phase it out completely e.g. whereby every new home/development, flat, office building, etc gets fibre in place from the start and people with longer lines or lines that are degrading get the copper replaced with fibre.

All this should be done along side BT's existing FTTC roll out.
Posted by Scubaholic over 6 years ago
At least 9 on the list are smaller than the UK & so apart from NL serve much lower pop. densities. The former Soviet sattelites most likely inherited aging systems. But I know in Estonia it has been a Govt. priority to get a 21st Century Internet structure to aid business as well as homes. Here we leave it to "The market" & Ofcom not knowing the difference between **** & elbow.
Here I am in Central London & have to wait until Dec 2011 for FTTC! Wish I was still in Highams Park with the telegraph pole at the bottom of the garden.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@Randomise:I'm sure some will disagree. But when was the last you or anyone you know were actually prevented from doing something by the UK telecommunications infrastructure?

Have you ever picked up the phone and not got dial-tone?
Been unable to get through because of congestion?
Been cut off part way through?
What website or service were you unable to use because your connection was slow?
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
What we have in the UK is currently 'good enough'. Ripping it all out and replacing it with something new is harder to justify.

To use an analogy:
If you own a three year old car it's a lot harder to justify replacing it with something newer.

If you own a horse pulled cart it's almost a no-brainer decision :)
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
My line is a good example of what I mean. It was installed in the early 1980s. It currently supports a 14Mb/s connection. This time next year it will probably be up to 38Mb/s.

Why would anyone bother replacing it?

For sure there's some luck involved but considering I live in a small market town in South Northants I don't think you can be too hard on BT.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Agreed ^

Not sure what your talking about Randomise, the telephone networks works fine, even on really long copper lines.

Let's not confuse the telephone network with broadband, the telephone network was designed to support voice not data, and voice it does very well, as said 95% coverage.
Posted by rolinux over 6 years ago
I personally don't envy too much the FTTB in Eastern Europe.
In Romania most of the city population live in blocks of flats.In one square KM you can easily have 10K flats so very easy to get fiber to them compared with predominantly houses in UK cities.
But with FTTB in Romania you have few hundred KB to the internet of real traffic as most of your neighbours will have torrents running permanently.
Also not sure about more investment in FTTB there when the BT equivalent is giving 2Mb ADSL with only 3 pounds.
So personally enjoy the fact that I can live in a house than a flat with FTTB there.
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ AndrueC

"Have you ever picked up the phone and not got dial-tone?
Been unable to get through because of congestion?
Been cut off part way through?"

- Nope, I can't say I have had any of those problems, but thats not the issue, the issue is problems relating to Broadband use over the infrastructure not the phone use. Yes our Telecommunications infrastructure is first class if you want to make a phone call, but not broadband use which is kind of what this site is about :P (sorry for the sarcasm)
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ GMAN99

"Not sure what your talking about Randomise, the telephone networks works fine, even on really long copper lines."

Well depends on what your definition of fine is I suppose.

Sadly it that attitude that leaves UK lagging behind everyone else (in more than just BB), because of the attitude of oh its fine now, so we won't bother investing in future proofing technology.

Cont
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
Cont

But as I said in another news article to another person, "you can predict the future uses of broadband can you?".
I don't claim to be able to but I think its a damn good idea to start moving away from the copper network, even if its only small steps such as new builds, and old/long lines.
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ AndrueC

"What we have in the UK is currently 'good enough'. Ripping it all out and replacing it with something new is harder to justify."

I am not saying we should rip out the whole copper network, however we should definitely start moving away from it where we can rather than milking it.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Randomise, what telephony functions of the telephone network can't you do now that you'd like it to do?
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ GMAN

I can do all the Telephony functions I want, whats that got to do with broadband over the telephone network, which is the dicussion?

If your getting at what I think your getting at, we dont need to copper lines to deliever a phone service, surely it can be done as VOIP down fibre, (hasnt BT changed there back end stuff over to this already?).

Cont
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
Cont

It was AndrueC that brought up the telephone use stuff which tbh is irrelevant as, I wasn't questioning the state of the telephone network for telephone services, I was however questioning the the state of the telephone network for Broadband.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I was referring to this:- "Im sure theres a fair few people that will disagree that we have one of the best telephone networks"

AndruC was saying we have a great telephony network which we do. Do we have a great broadband service over that telephony network? No, that's what I'm getting at.

In terms of what its supposed to be doing "voice" it works great. It wasn't built for data. Historically BT were prevented by Oftel rolling out fibre because it was hamper/prevent Mercury telecom and their fibre rollout, so... look to past gov bodies for reasons why we are behind on the fibre side.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
** fibre/co-ax cable rollout I should say
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
It would be interesting to know at what level of penetration VM has to acheive before they have to open their network too... now that would help nationwide roll-out!
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
But the BT FTTC/P rollout will match or exceed the VM network.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
themanstan, I can't seen it happening to be honest, because of Ofcom's backward thinking, they didn't rule that they should open up because the weren't seen as having a SMP and I can't see that they ever will have. Ofcom should be looking at Virgin's coverage not how many customers they have in an area, because of this its likely that there are ducts that could be used across 50% of the country but can't be used because Ofcom are measuring on a irrelevant statistic, if they want to speed up rollouts open up everyones ducts/poles.
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ Somerset

"But the BT FTTC/P rollout will match or exceed the VM network."

Yeah it will do when the rollout is complete which is a good few years away and assuming VM doesnt do any investment in expanding their network. However with the ofcom ruling that BT will have to open up its ducts and poles to other providers it will signifcantly reduce the costs of VM to increase their footprint.

Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ GMAN

I really don't see why we are having this conversation, as we are both making the same point for me. Which is:
Copper network is no good for future proofing broadband and therefore needs to be replaced.

And what I said earlier on was to target, new builds/developments, flats, and those with very Long or degrading lines first along side the FTTC deployment.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Target those areas with what though, fibre to premises?
Posted by Randomise over 6 years ago
@ GMAN99

Yes
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@Randomise:But the state of the network for telephony is /not/ irrelevant. It's the same network!

If you're going to upgrade the local loop you have to know the value gained.

The point about the UK local loop is that it's quite adequate for most people most of the time.

Latvias' (presumably) is/was not.

Therefore RoI for Latvia includes the gains from improving voice services. In the UK you don't get that RoI.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Running both side by side is probably the worst of both worlds. You don't save any money on telephony and you have the additional cost of fibre.

As I wrote:It's like thinking about replacing your car. If you're going to buy new you have to be sure of big advantages over your old model. You certainly don't want to run two cars at the same time.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
So:Replacing/extending a clapped out inadequate local loop is an easy RoI.

Upgrading an adequate local loop (especially when for part of its use it is actually near perfect) is a lot harder to justify.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
^ Exactly AndrueC, how can BT sell that to themselves? They are providing a voice service to customers which they get paid for, it works fine (voice). And your suggesting they replace it (because its not very good at broadband) at a huge installation cost, how do they get their money back on that? Bearing in mind it would be wholesaled so there's no guarantee BT would be the ISP on the line. All they'll get is rental which will take many years to pay back.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cont...


As with everything, if there's money to be made on the investment they'll do it. If they customer wants to pay for the massive FTTP costs on a long time then I'm sure they'll go for it, if not.. well... no
Posted by New_Londoner over 6 years ago
As with the VOIP story, there is a presumption in this story and the league table that FTTP is important. I get approx 40Mbps to my home today, which is more than I am likely to need for the next few years.

Bear in mind Virgin announced its 100Mb service today, which does not rely on FTTP, and I expect to see up to 100Mb being offered over FTTC in due course.

So not convinced this passes the "so what" test unless you are an FTTP fettishist or an equipment manufacturer.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
It's not about todays needs though, its about tomorrows, it would help small/medium sized businesses loads if they have a fast and reliable broadband connection which FTTP would let them have. If i could i would....

FTTP every city
FTTC every town
1 FTTC cab in every village.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
small/medium sized business can get FTTP now. Why do businesses think internet access should be cheap as chips? Its something they need to factor into their costs just like rent/electricity/staff wages etc.

Why do people just expect to get these things for next to nothing. Its available to businesses across the UK right now and has been for a quite a while.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@Lego:That's true but you still have to weigh cost versus gain. As GMAN99 wrote - any business with a plan can pay to get fibre. If they can't afford that investment then perhaps their plan isn't all that great or there are better ways to do it.

In most cases remote access technology (like Remote Desktop) will do the job. I'm currently working on some MS SharePoint stuff and the server is in Minneapolis. I'm in a converted barn in Oxfordshire with a 4Mb/s ADSL connection.

No problems here administering and connecting to the server.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
..that doesn't mean it wouldn't be better with a decent connection of course. What it does mean however is that when the quote for a better connection comes in at half my salary we can all agree that it's not worth it.

Life is all about compromise. People that don't realise that end up in debt and sometimes bankrupt. That's basically what's behind the current recession. Too many people divorced from reality.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
i know small/medium sized businesses can get FTTP, i still think the government should pay for it, they waste billions on Quangos, Red Tape and especially the EU.

Ok, so the government won't pay for it, but they could at least listen and remove all the obstacles which they have put in place.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/broken-telephone/2010/10/by-jove-i-think-theyve-got-it.html
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Why would the government pay for it, we as tax payers would be paying for it me and you. Are you happy about paying for a businesses broadband bearing in mind this isn't someone in welfare without a job its an actual business that you would expect would be making a profit?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
If a business is reliant on broadband for communication and its not affordable, then for me its just the same as not being able to buy business premises in a city, if you can't afford it you can't do it, go for a cheaper option or if you can't do that don't set-up the business in the first place if you can't afford everything needed to run it. There's enough bad charity in this country as it is without subbing businesses for stuff like this.
Posted by New_Londoner over 6 years ago
@GMan
Agree withthis, especially when comms are so much cheaper in the UK than many other countries to start with.

If a business plan relies on public subsidy then it is liable to fail anyway as subsidies change, get withdrawn etc. And that is before you consider the morality of a "business case" needing to be funded by other people.
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