Optical Connections Magazine Spring 2023



With the FTTH Council Europe’s Conference taking place in Madrid, on 18th – 20th April 2023, Optical Connections’ editor Peter Dykes went screen-to-screen with the Council’s Director General Vincent Garnier , to look at the state of FTTH rollout on the continent.

millions being spent putting fibre the ground, somehow, there will have to be some payback and you will only get payback if a high percentage of the population is subscribing to services on these networks.

other countries where some work still has to be done [such as] Belgium, but of course, given its size, Belgium has a lower impact on the overall numbers. The rural areas are in most countries less covered than the rest of the population. In those areas, coverage is more around 30% and coverage in rural areas very often comes last in development plans. They are more difficult technically, and it is much more difficult to make a business case to roll out fibre in these regions, so that can explain the difference. But it’s clearly a challenge if we want to move towards 100% coverage, we must make sure that we cover properly and avoid creating a digital divide between city centres, urban areas, dense areas and the less dense areas. Rural areas have been attracting alternative operators with very nimble and agile business models, focusing on these areas because very often incumbents and the larger players have been putting a lot of effort in urban areas, so this leaves rural markets for other operators. But the difference between coverage and effective subscription means that one of the challenges we have ahead of us is to close that gap and make sure that the adoption of fibre is higher. With


How would you characterise FTTH rollout in Europe?


If we look at the development of full fibre networks across

Europe, we have now passed the threshold of 50% coverage, which means that more than one in two households in Europe has access to full fibre networks, and that is growing. But it means also that we still have half of the journey to cover. We don’t have the latest numbers for the end of 2022 yet, but we anticipate a growth vs 2021. Among those only approximately half of the houses are subscribing to Internet services on fibre, so there’s a big gap between having access to a full fibre network and effectively benefiting from it by subscribing. Another consideration is when we look at what still has to be to be covered with full fibre. The bulk of the remaining areas to be fibreised are actually in three countries. Close to 60% of the remaining potential for fibre deployment in Western Europe can be found in Germany, UK, and Italy. Those three countries will be crucial for Europe to reach the objective of having gigabit connectivity for everyone by 2030. To a lesser extent, you have

Why do you think only 50% of premises passed have taken a connection? We have commissioned a study [looking at this issue] which we will release before the



conference. It started from the fact that 50% is the average take-up, but there are very significant difference between countries. In all countries, take-up follows deployment, but you cannot have 50% take-up when you start rolling out of course, it takes time to convince people. So, you have a delay, but by comparing like with like between European countries, we can clearly see that some are outperforming and some are underperforming. In some countries, you manage very rapidly to convince potential users to subscribe to and to switch from copper to fibre. In other countries it is much more difficult and there are multiple reasons. Some are linked to structural market conditions, others are linked to public policies.


| ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023


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