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Western Europe fails to deliver on fibre, but bright spots exist

27 октября 2010

Europe remains some way behind the rest of the world when it comes to fibre network rollout, and Western European operators in particular are lagging, according to new research from IDATE. However, Eastern Europe and the Nordics are flying the flag for the continent as a whole, and there were some encouraging signs from the larger economies in the first half of 2010.

Europe claimed 3.2 million fibre subscriptions in mid-2010 (or 4.5 million including Russia), compared with 8.6 million in the U.S. and 43 million in Asia, said Chris Holden, president of the FTTH Council Europe, presenting the numbers gathered by IDATE at Broadband World Forum in Paris on Tuesday.

“The Asian countries are still leading the global ranking,” he said, noting that the top four places are occupied by South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan in that order. The rankings list economies in which household penetration of fibre access is above 1%.

However, fifth spot globally – and first place in the European ranking - goes to Lithuania, where household penetration now stands at more than 20%, up 3.3 percentage points.

The biggest advance up the table in Europe came from Bulgaria, which recorded a 4 percentage point increase in penetration over the first six months of the year, propelling itself to 8th place from 16th, while neighbouring Romania made it into the ranking for the first time, its 120,000 fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-premises subscriptions leaving it in 13th place.

Among the larger economies, Italy and France are still at the bottom, Holden pointed out. And the U.K., Germany and Spain “haven't made the ranking at all”.

But on a more optimistic note for Europe's big markets, France came in third behind Russia and Bulgaria in the first half in terms of new subscribers added, with Germany in fourth. And France and Italy rank second and third respectively (behind Russia) in terms of homes passed in absolute terms.

France and Germany are starting to get customers on to the networks they have already built, said Holden.

Lithuania tops the chart by percentage of homes passed at close to 60%. According to Holden, the 20% mark indicates market maturity.

“We now have more than 10 countries that have beaten that 20% figure,” he said. “That's progress.”

The Nordic markets are still faring well in terms of overall fibre penetration, with Sweden and Norway occupying the second and third spots, thanks largely to the efforts of local government and utilities in those markets.

“The municipalities and public utilities are the main players [in Europe]. The incumbents still haven't come into their main game,” Holden said. “Once they do lock in, that will make a huge difference.”

As of the end of June, Europe's incumbents accounted for 17% of homes passed, up from 15% six months earlier.

“Nearly all [the incumbents] have plans,” added Roland Montagne, director of IDATE's telecoms business unit.

Swisscom and Deutsche Telekom are both moving from VDSL to fibre, he pointed out.

And some are more advanced than others. Portugal Telecom had passed 1 million homes by mid-2010, driven by competition from other players in the market; altnet Sonaecom had passed 300,000 homes and cable operator Zon 170,000 by the same date.

Competition, more than regulatory holidays or certainty, is driving incumbents to roll out fibre, Holden insisted.

For instance, France Telecom has passed 605,088 homes with fibre, while altnets Iliad and SFR have passed 380,000 and 390,000 respectively and cableco Numericable has 4.4 million. And in Italy, Telecom Italia has passed 150,000 homes, compared with Fastweb's 2 million.


Источник: Total Telecom

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