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Growth of Fibre to the Home across Europe
Tuesday 16 October 2012 13:44:23 by Andrew Ferguson

Full fibre connections as in fibre to the home or the building is very much the way to go for Internet connections, the big stumbling block has been the cost of deployment. The UK is behind the curve and while the finger is pointed at the UK incumbent operator BT the majority of the time. The interesting fact is that in Europe at many countries have several major providers competing even where they do not have access to the incumbents infrastructure.

FTTH Council EU Data on Fibre Penetration
(Click image for larger version)

The above chart from the Fibre to the Home Council Europe shows actual subscribers, rather than the more usual homes passed statistic. The number of subscribers is a much better metric, as it is far to easy for telco's to claim large numbers of properties passed, but be very slow at actually connecting subscribers. What is very interesting is the proportion of FTTB versus FTTH, FTTB is very popular in cities across Europe as the costs are much lower than a full fibre deployment, the UK has been slow in exploiting this sector of the market but Hyperoptic, Magnet and others are increasing the numbers connected.

FTTH Council EU Data growth in availability in last six months
(Click image for larger version)

While the UK does not figure on most of the FTTH Council Europe data, if you look at the six month period for December 2011 to June 2012 we do feature, with the UK adding more homes passed than Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Though in terms of actual subscribers these countries do beat us, mainly because their fibre market is more mature in terms of marketing and existing coverage.

FTTH Council EU Data rise in subscriptions over six months
(Click image for larger version)

The FTTH Council Europe does have some data on the UK, which reveals that in the UK we have around 175,000 homes passed by FTTH/B and 13,000 subscriptions.

UK Figures in June 2012
Provider Subscribers Homes Passed
BT/Openreach 5,000 85,000
CityFibre Unknown 30,000
Others 8,000 60,000

The key now will be how fast can we in the UK build on these small but promising figures. While the growing number of rural fibre projects such as those from B4rn and others will make a massive difference to the local area, it is actually what Openreach does in 2013 that will be crucial. If the pricing for its Fibre on Demand product at launch is right, then we may see the full fibre subscription numbers rapidly rise, out pacing the efforts of all the other operators. This is not favouritism to Openreach, just a cold reality of the size of the Openreach footprint which means more than 11 million properties should have a full fibre option in 2013, though at a higher activation cost than the areas with dedicated FTTP from Openreach.

Much of the debate on fibre in the UK focuses on rural areas, what is not clear is whether the UK is actually behind the curve in that area, the work of IFNL, GigaClear and others in the rural parts of the UK means while the total numbers connected are low, direct comparisons for similar locations across Europe may reveal a more rosy picture than the doom and gloom that seems to be a constant feature of UK broadband lobbying.


Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Why is the propoganda from the so-called FTTH council (ie manufacturers) treated like news? And who cares about this data anyway?

The reports from Akamai and elsewhere show that the hype around FTTB speeds in much of the world is exactly that, otherwise why does South Korea average < 20Mbps average download speeds, which is easily out-performed by my FTTC line?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
How is it propaganda? or any more than many other items that show stats around the world, or announce or new products?

Their data is the first real announcement of Openreach FTTP numbers.

Running with it now, gives as the baseline data for a year or two, so we can see how things have or have not progressed.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 4 years ago
It will have to do For The Time Being.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
What really matters is what is availability, otherwise peasants distort the numbers.
Posted by Joppy over 4 years ago
According to the person I spoke to in VM retentions, VM is the only UK ISP to provide FTTH....and its not coax from the cabinet. Just one of her funny claims!
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Well it's no less true than the line that VM offers the fastest widely available broadband. ;-) Not the case for upload speed now, won't be true either for download when FTTP-on-demand is available.
Posted by finaldest over 4 years ago
A true FTTH connection is nothing but a pipe dream here in the UK.
We are a country of "make do" with what you have got rather than "plan ahead" for the future.

With only roughly 180,000 homes passed is a joke.
Posted by Ultraman1966 over 4 years ago
The problem stems from the fact that even for FTTC, there's a relatively low takeup as it's available in same area as cable/VM or they're close to exchange so get >10Mbs anyway.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
'too easy for telco's to claim large numbers of properties passed, but be very slow at actually connecting subscribers'. Why is that?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago

Possibly because of the time and effort to connect people, so we get the massed roll-out, followed by a slower tail as the half day to connect each customer takes place.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
My prejudice would be that we have a lot more houses and fewer blocks of flats than some countries. Are there stats for "buildings in multiple occupation" or similar to put the FTTB thing in context ?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
FTTB is pretty much deployments to flats or MDU in PR speak
Posted by eviemai2011 over 4 years ago
Fibre to the Mdu is very labour intensive and there is no "one solution fits all". The easiest option is FTTC for the time being.
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