MARSEILLE, France -- FTTH Conference 2017 -- The number of fixed broadband users hooked up to a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) connection in Europe grew by more than 23% in the year to September 2016 to 44.3 million, up from 35.9 million a year earlier, according to the latest numbers from the FTTH Council Europe and its research partner IDATE.
That's a decent growth rate, but a glance at the details shows that a small number of markets account for much of the current FTTH/B penetration across Europe, which for IDATE's research comprises 39 markets including Russia and stretching as far east as Kazakhstan.
Russia, for example, accounts for more than 17 million subscribers, more than 38% of the total. Spain, meanwhile, has 4.5 million (more than 10% of the total), France has 3.2 million (more than 7%) and Romania 2.7 million (about 6% of the total).
That means more than 60% of Europe's FTTH/B subscribers are located in just four countries.
Of the 39 countries included in the research, 21 have more than 200,000 FTTH/B subscribers. But even with that low threshold, some major European countries still don't make the cut -- that's Germany and the UK, folks.
Roland Montagne, principal analyst and director market development at IDATE, noted during his presentation here at the FTTH Conference 2017 of the latest figures that "even the reluctant countries" are now starting to embrace FTTH/B -- that has been notable in the UK, for example, with BT's access division Openreach being more vocal about its FTTH plans during the past year (just as UK regulator Ofcom threatened to force BT to offload that division, it's worth noting). (See BT Hints at More Widespread FTTP Rollout and BT's Broadband Chief Preps for 5G With FTTx Plans.)
Montagne also noted how Europe's incumbent operators had, in general, become much more active in taking fiber all the way to the customer in recent years: He noted that of the 148 million homes passed with fiber across Europe, incumbent national telcos now account for 43% -- in 2011 that statistic was just 21%, so the major operators have at least been more committed to building out their fiber plant much closer to their potential customers in recent years.
The IDATE man -- who, by the way, cannot get a fiber broadband connection at his home in France -- added that customers are increasingly subscribing to FTTH/B services but that there's still a lot of marketing and information sharing to be done by network operators to promote the benefits of fiber-based broadband.
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