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FTTH Europe: Slow Growth Forecast

Ray Le Maistre
2/11/2009
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COPENHAGEN -- FTTH Council Europe Conference 2009 -- The number of European homes with FTTH connections is set to grow from nearly 2.4 million at the end of 2008 to 20.5 million by the end of 2013, according to a forecast by Heavy Reading that was unveiled here today. (See FTTH: Alive & Well in Europe.)

But even that level of growth isn't enough to put Europe on a par with North America or the advanced Asia/Pacific markets, says Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie, who based his projection on a study of 41 markets in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe.

"Europe is continuing to fall behind the U.S. and Asia/Pacific. It was behind four years ago, and now it's even further behind. I'd say Europe lags the U.S. by four years and Japan by eight to 10 years," Finnie tells Light Reading.

That's important, because high-speed broadband is becoming increasingly important for economic competitiveness, a point made by nearly every speaker in Copenhagen today.

Finnie notes that Europe isn't lagging behind just because many incumbent carriers have been dragging their heels over fiber access deployments. "The regulators and policy makers who have procrastinated and vacillated" have a lot to answer for, says the analyst, who adds that his forecast is "realistic but not very encouraging for Europe."

The analyst also notes that, in the past year, a number of important indicators related to FTTH deployment -- such as a buoyant consumer electronics market and new housing developments -- have turned negative in Europe.

Despite the impact of the widespread economic downturn, Europe's FTTH market will at least still be in growth mode, with new markets developing quickly during the next five years.

By 2013, Finnie predicts, Russia will be the leader in Europe in terms of households with FTTH connections, with about 4.2 million end users, which includes those homes hooked up via fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) broadband services. France and Germany should follow in second and third positions, with Italy and Sweden in fourth and fifth.

In terms of household penetration of FTTH services, Sweden will lead the way in 2013 with more than 30 percent, followed very closely by Slovenia with 30 percent, Norway with 22.1 percent, and Denmark with 21.2 percent.

Across the region, Finnie expects competitive carriers to command 45 percent of the European FTTH market by the close of 2013, with incumbent operators claiming 31 percent, and municipalities/utility firms commanding the remaining 24 percent.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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