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Report: EMEA Set for FTTH Surge

Europe’s been lagging Asia/Pacific and North America in terms of fiber access deployments, but rollouts of fiber-based high-speed broadband are set to ramp quickly during the next five years, according to a new report from Heavy Reading, "FTTH Worldwide Technology Update & Market Forecast." (See FTTH Technology Fracas Continues.)

At the end of 2007 only 1.3 million of the world’s 20.1 million fiber access connections were in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, compared with 16.4 million in Asia/Pacific and 2.4 million in the Americas, according to the report.

Of the current fiber access connections in EMEA, many have been deployed by municipalities, utility firms, and competitive operators such as Italy’s Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB) and Sweden’s Bredbandsbolaget AB (B2) in Western Europe, with incumbent carriers making little headway. (See Amsterdam Fires Up Muni Broadband, PacketFront Lands Vienna Deal, Swisscom Bids $4.9B for FastWeb, and Utilities Key to Euro FTTH.)

But that’s set to change in the next few years as the likes of Orange (NYSE: FTE) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) ramp up their next-generation access plans, with France set to be the leading single market following its lead in IPTV. (See FT Fleshes Out FTTH , Neuf Unit Wins FTTH Deal, Iliad Plans €1B FTTH Build, and Top Ten: IPTV Carriers.)

”FTTH is finally seeing significant activity in Europe, and 2008 will be an important staging post on the road to mass deployment,” states the report’s author, Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie.

And with fiber rollouts gathering pace in select markets in Eastern Europe (Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania) and the Middle East (Kuwait, Dubai) adding to the incumbents’ activities, Finnie believes the EMEA region will have more than 19 million fiber access connections by the end of 2012. (See Slovenia Snacks on Fiber Diet, Orange Does FTTH in Slovakia, Dubai Picks PacketFront, and Kuwait Opts for FTTH.)

That doesn’t mean EMEA will be catching up with Asia/Pacific and North America, though. “Overall, Europe will continue to lag the Asian pioneers and the U.S.,” notes Finnie.

Europe’s FTTH movers and shakers meet this week in Paris to discuss the best way to develop the EMEA region’s broadband potential, and Light Reading will be reporting from the event’s conference rooms and show floor.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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