Video services

European Minnow Boasts Fastest FTTH

Lattelecom Group , the national operator in the Baltic republic of Latvia, says it's rolling out the fastest broadband service in Europe, and will offer access speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s by the end of 2009.

That's not the end of the operator's ambitions -- Lattelecom says its "Network of the Future" will ultimately deliver downlink speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s.

The carrier says customers in more than 30 apartment blocks in the Latvian capital of Riga will be connected for test services by the end of January. Those customers will initially get broadband speeds of 100 Mbit/s, increasing to 500 Mbit/s later this year, enabling users to receive, for example, multiple high-definition IPTV channels and run other bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time.

Currently the fastest broadband services in Europe, from specialist fiber access players and even some cable operators, offer theoretical peak rates of 120 Mbit/s, though in real terms the services offer slower downlink speeds. Most of the region's broadband users are connected to DSL lines, the fastest of which (using VDSL2 technology) offer peak rates of up to 50 Mbit/s. (See Cable Europe Touts 100-Mbit/s Offers, Europeans Advance FTTx Plans , and Ericsson Lands DT Deal.)

Lattelecom says its high bandwidth services will be rolled out in other Latvian cities following further deployments in Riga, and that customers will be charged the same fee as they pay for DSL-based broadband services. Latvia has about 900,000 households and a total population of about 2.3 million.

The carrier had not returned calls or responded to emails regarding its technology choices and partners as this article was published.

Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie, who is currently researching the European FTTH market, believes the operator must be referring either to the bandwidth being delivered to each apartment block, and then shared amongst the residents, or that Lattelecom is using some form of experimental fiber access technology to deliver such potential broadband speeds. (See The Future of Fiber Access for a guide to fiber access technology options.)

Latvian blogger Juris Kaža noted today, though, that the operator had confirmed it plans to provide each end user with 10 Gbit/s broadband. See Juris's blog at this link.

Lattelecom, in which Nordic giant Telia Company holds a 49 percent stake, currently has about 180,000 broadband customers, of which about 15,000 subscribe to its IPTV service, which was launched in April 2007. The carrier says it is yet to launch its HD IPTV service. (See Optibase Wins in Latvia, Lattelecom Uses Orca, and Lattelecom Picks Widevine.)

Europe's FTTH market is still in the early stages of development, with even the most advanced markets, such as France and Italy, having fewer than 25,000 FTTH connections each. (See Swedes Top Euro FTTH Ranking.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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