FTTH/B about to enter mass adoption phase
Fibre based services such as FTTC, FTTP and FTTB (Fibre to the Cabinet, Premises, Building) are being rolled out in many countries around the world, interestingly a European Communications magazine feature indicates that in many countries growth is slowing. The number of fibre subscribers grew by 15% to over 112.6 million in the first half of 2011, though much of the growth was due to China which is now the worlds largest FTTH/B market after Japan.
The previous six months had shown an increase of 39% in the numbers, this apparent drop in growth, can be partly explained by how some Chinese telco's released information on penetration levels.
In Europe, where the UK is meant to have the best broadband by 2015, Russia has the largest subscriber base with some 5.2 million subscribers, and Sweden is second though showing little growth in numbers. France is in third place, but there are problems with getting consumers to switch to the fibre based products.
The UK has something like 450,000 subscribers on FTTx networks, but the availability of cable broadband to many may be reducing take-up of the fibre services that would be seen through early adopters. Cable and FTTC/P services in the UK are competing heavily for customers.
Tim Johnson of Point Topic, makes a very important point "Build it intelligently and they will come.", which means don't just build the new fibre networks where you started first building old ADSL networks. Look at a combination of factors, particularly the situation where consumers getting slower than 4 Mbps are much more likely to upgrade to a fibre based service offering 40 Mbps or faster than a consumer already experiencing 12 to 15 Mbps from ADSL2+. Also critical is the level of customer service, and installation experience. Getting this right will help with word of mouth type selling in an area.
The UK has a highly competitive broadband market with two local loops in most cities already, this brings low prices, which result in small margins for investment, which is perhaps why we don't see any roll-out on the scale of ER Telecom in Russia which has 1.94 million subscribers and plans to offer FTTH to 42 Russian cities.