France tops Euro FTTH table

With 11.2 million homes passed, up 27% over the second half of 2008, fibre to the home/building (FTTH/B) is still making real strides in Europe, while subscriber numbers are also on the rise. But users are concentrated in a few countries only, according to annual research from consulting and research company Idate.

Commissioned by the FTTH Council Europe, Idate this week issued an inventory of FTTH in Europe in the end of 2008. In terms of home passed, France was ahead of all European countries with 4.4 million due to the fact that homes passed by cable company Numericable, and its subscribers, have been included in FTTB numbers since June 2008. Following are Italy (+ 2 million homes), Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands.

Very dynamic, Slovakia ranks in sixth position with just over 500,000 homes passed.

FTTH/B subscribers reached 1.7 million at the end of 2008, up 25% over the second half of 2008. But, “Europe is still lagging behind the US and Japan (nearly 15 million FTTH/B subs expected at the end of 2008),” Idate adds.

Subscribers in Europe are mostly concentrated into seven countries - France (4.1% penetration of homes passed), Italy (14.5%), Germany (21.5%). Sweden (44.1%), Italy (14.5%) and Norway (65.6%), The Netherlands (29%) and Denmark (14.5%). Sweden could fall from top spot if the growth rate seen over the past six months in the Netherlands and France continues.

As in previous years, municipalities and power companies are still very active into FTTH/B deployment, and account for 58.5% of the projects. In terms of subscribers, alternative operators like FastWeb in Italy, B2 in Sweden, Illiad//Free, Numericable and SFR in France as well as T2 in Slovenia dominate the market. At the end of last year, they totalled 657,000 subs or “nearly 40 % of Europe’s FTTH/B subscriber base.”

Providing a focus on Eastern Europe and Middle East, Idate explains that Russia has taken the lead in FTTH/B deployments and is “now home to around 630,000 FTTB subs. It could become one of the largest FTTB markets worldwide.”

Rollout in the Middle East are still limited to pioneer experience in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. But the FTTH/B subscriber base is not yet significant.