Video services

Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe

Per-population penetrations help to give a picture both of the state of telecom market development and of its future potential. Low figures suggest lots of scope for building up infrastructure and standard services, while high figures suggest scope for service innovation.

The greatest potentials
Like Table 1, Table 3 shows a CEE/WE mix, but it is a much more diverse affair in that the rankings for narrowband, broadband, and mobile subscriber penetrations differ considerably. In particular, the CEE markets are virtually absent from the broadband rankings but are strongly represented in the mobile ones, and more weakly in narrowband. This reflects the historical development of the region’s telecom market, which has emphasized mobile heavily and narrowband to a lesser extent.

Table 3: Europe** Top 10 Markets by Telecom Service Per-Population Penetrations, 2008
Market Per-population narrowband subscribers, % Market Per-population broadband subscribers, % Market Per-population mobile subscribers, %
Switzerland 47% Netherlands 36% Portugal 148%
Germany 44% Switzerland 35% Italy 144%
France 41% Germany 28% *Bulgaria 141%
UK 40% UK 28% *Czech Republic 134%
Spain 38% France 28% *Russia 131%
Belgium 34% Belgium 27% Germany 130%
*Bulgaria 30% Austria 22% *Romania 128%
*Hungary 30% Spain 21% Austria 126%
Italy 29% Italy 20% UK 124%
*Ukraine 28% *Czech Republic 19% Netherlands 120%
** Europe in this article is limited to those countries listed in the Markets, Services & Definitions page. In particular, the Nordic Region (Denmark, Faeroes, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) is omitted. Source: Pyramid Research / Light Reading, 2009

Table 3 presents a static snapshot of these markets. As an indication of how things are moving, refer to Table 4, which (read carefully) shows the percentage change since 2007 in the various penetrations. So, if the 2007 penetration was, say, 50 percent, and the 2008 penetration is 60 percent, the percentage change is taken as 20 percent ([60 - 50]/50 as a percentage change, not 10 percentage points change from 50 to 60 percent).

Table 4: Europe** Top 10 Markets by Annual Percentage Change in Telecom Service Per-Population Penetrations, 2008
Market Annual change in per-population narrowband subscribers, % Market Annual change in per-population broadband subscribers, % Market Annual change in per-population mobile subscribers, %
*Ukraine 5% *Ukraine 164% *Romania 21%
*Russia 2% *Russia 82% *Russia 14%
*Romania 0% *Romania 48% *Hungary 11%
Spain -1% *Slovakia 42% Belgium 10%
Switzerland -2% *Bulgaria 36% Germany 10%
Germany -2% Germany 18% Portugal 10%
*Slovakia -2% *Hungary 16% *Bulgaria 8%
*Bulgaria -3% *Czech Republic 15% Netherlands 7%
Austria -5% *Poland 13% Austria 7%
Belgium -6% Switzerland 13% France 7%
** Europe in this article is limited to those countries listed in the Markets, Services & Definitions page. In particular, the Nordic Region (Denmark, Faeroes, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) is omitted. Source: Pyramid Research / Light Reading, 2009

Table 4 shows clearly the CEE trend already referred to by which Russia and Ukraine continue to see PSTN (narrowband) subscriber growth as the exception to the general decline. Conversely, broadband subscribers are increasing rapidly in the CEE region as the service rollout gathers momentum and the small subscriber bases increase. Mobile also continues to grow significantly in many of these CEE markets, and also in the less saturated markets of Western Europe, such as Belgium, Germany, and France.

Mobile broadband potential
Even in a mature market like Western Europe, well-served with fixed broadband services, market analyst Ovum, for example, expects the growth in mobile laptop access over the next five years to reach 747 percent, and 918 percent in handset access.

However, according to Pyramid’s Bakhyt Weeks, the near-term future of mobile broadband throughout the CEE region is less clear, mainly owing to the economic downturn, delayed 3G rollouts in the largest CEE market – Russia – and the fast-growing availability of affordable fixed broadband. But, while the first two issues are out of the operators’ control, the latter one is being actively addressed.

Initially, mobile broadband was considerably slower and more expensive than fixed broadband, but this situation is rapidly changing as mobile players are trying to position mobile broadband as a substitute to fixed. First, operators are constantly improving coverage and network capacity – in most of the countries there are at least three competing operators with 3G licenses – so in most cases 3G urban coverage is almost universal, and many networks can support speeds up to 7.2 Mbit/s. Further, thanks to competition, mobile broadband in CEE is getting cheaper by the day.

“Mobile operators are really trying to entice people with low prices and special promotions like 'try-before-you buy' offers,” Weeks says. “Plus, there is definitely demand for mobility, so with cheaper prices, increased coverage, and network quality, we may see a strong uplift in mobile broadband demand in the medium term, as the economic situation improves.”

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[email protected] 12/5/2012 | 4:45:23 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe Good report
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:06:39 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe

I'm getting a little sick of all the negativity in the N. American telecoms market. Look at that chart in Figure 1. N.A. looks forward to shrinkage while Asian operators see nothing but growth.

How much of this is attitude vs. the real world stuff like population density?



dong 12/5/2012 | 4:06:33 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe IPTV got small achievements in FRANCE ,but oversee the whole EU Market , IPTV is still small piece of cake.
What is the drive and obstacle impacting IPTV growing?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:18 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe


There is a big difference between the video business in Europe and that in the US/Canada.  It has to do with the penetration of HDTV and the number of HDTVs per household.

If you say that HDTV is about 10 Mb/s (which we can all argue about comparing compression and quality), then you need 20 Mb/s per every HDTV so that each TV can watch one program and record a second on a DVR.  With 1 HDTV per home 20 - 25Mb/s is marginally adequate.  Now put in 2.

Europe has a much lower percentage take rate of HDTV and DVRs.  Multi-HDTV homes are very rare.

The reason all of this is important is that ADSL2+ provides pretty adequate bandwidth for SDTV and potentially 1 HDTV stream without DVR.  However, that is the low end of the model in the US - equivalent to basic cable. 

So, IPTV in the US is headed to deep fiber - if it continues to exist.  Once you run a FTTH model, you can consider RF overlay which allows you to buy into the existing cable models and STBs.  It certainly mucks up the water.



digits 12/5/2012 | 4:06:18 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe You think the achievements in the French market are small?
IPTV = REALLY hard to do adequately, mcuh much harder to do well. It's still very early days and no one knows yet how to do IPTV in the optimum way. It's going to take a long time to get it really right - IMHO.
dong 12/5/2012 | 4:06:15 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe

I ever dicussed with France Telecom about the network expansion for IPTV,

Information I got  is FT is not sure IPTV can earn expected revenue, especially competition pressure from the internet free TV

So my mind is that the whole industry sill have not find one complete heathy business mode. which will impact the carrier confidence continuing to invest in the IPTV market.


menexis 12/5/2012 | 4:03:53 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe I'm surprised to see S. Korea in the number two spot
[email protected] 12/5/2012 | 4:03:51 PM
re: Telecom Market Spotlight: Europe


The single IDI metric used to rank countries is quite complex, and is computed from many differently weighted characteristics. Presumably, apparently rather different countries might nevertheless have a similar IDI under some circumstances.

There's more information on how the IDI methodology works on the following ITU page:


Go down to the entry for:

Partnership on Measuring on Measuring ICT for Development. Presented by Susan Teltscher at the 7th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Meeting. Cairo, Egypt. 3-5 March 2009.

and follow the link.

Tim Hills


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