Fibre-to-the-home reaches one million Europeans

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Fibre-to-the-home reaches one million Europeans

Sweden leads the way with next-gen Internet access.

Over one million users in western Europe have subscribed to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband services, new research estimates.

The Telecom Markets report for Informa Telecoms & Media's Broadband Subscriber Database noted that FTTH represents only 1.4 per cent of western Europe's 79 million-plus broadband subscriptions.

But the nascent business models behind the networks are already having a "significant impact" in Scandinavia.

FTTH is a next-generation network access technology that uses optical fibre in the last-mile connection to provide broadband services which are tens, or even hundreds, of times faster than conventional alternatives.

FTTH is most advanced in Sweden, where the technology is used for 650,000 broadband subscriptions, or over 27 percent of the country's 2.3 million residents.

The study pointed out that the 150 municipal networks serving these customers tend not to be owned by conventional telecoms operators, but by utilities or local authorities.

Generally speaking, there is less interest in building FTTH networks from conventional national telecoms operators, which argue that the approach is too expensive to carry out on a widespread basis.

The majority of former state-owned monopolies, for example, have instead committed to fibre-to-the node.

These networks use fibre for part of the last-mile connection and the traditional copper network for the final leg to the home, which generally limits commercial speeds to 50Mbps.

France Telecom and its domestic competitors, Iliad Telecom and Neuf Cegetel, are notable exceptions, having each begun to roll-out out FTTH in cities and suburbs across France.

"Apart from France, Scandinavia and The Netherlands, there is no immediate prospect in western Europe that FTTH services will enjoy widespread availability," the study stated.

"In part, this is due to a lack of initiative from utilities and local authorities, but also because markets are dominated by incumbents and cable operators which have no incentive to make hefty investments in brand new infrastructure."
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