Gigabit broadband services can be found in Europe but the prospects for any kind of unified move towards a Gigabit Society on the continent look slim, according to a new report researched and written by Graham Finnie, consulting analyst at Heavy Reading .
Finnie, an expert on the broadband market who will be presenting the key findings of his research on the first day of the Gigabit Europe 2015 conference in Munich (Sept. 29 & 30), says there is a surprising amount of gigabit broadband services activity, though it is quite fragmented. "In our research, we found there were 20 operators already offering 1Gbit/s services in Europe, including both large and small operators, as well as many more offering services at more than 100Mbit/s."
But he doesn't expect to witness the type of gigabit "movement" that has emerged in the US in recent years.
"The challenge in Europe is fragmentation. With so many different countries, operators and many differences in the regulatory and competitive environment, we may not see a Europe-wide movement emerge in the US pattern," notes Finnie. "But at national level, we are likely to see it -- indeed, it's already starting to emerge in pioneering broadband nations such as Norway and Sweden."
So what's driving the emergence of these pockets of gigabit availability in Europe? Are there any regional catalysts peculiar to Europe? Finnie believes that, from the customers' side, there is little that is different in Europe. "The underlying demand drivers don't differ that much from one continent to another. The same or similar apps and devices drive demand for bandwidth, and speed sells on every continent," notes the Heavy Reading analyst.
"Supply-side drivers, such as differences in competition, regulation, type of providers and level of FTTH penetration, do vary a lot more, but there is probably more variation within Europe than there is between Europe, the US and Asia. So the drivers may actually be more obvious in some European countries than elsewhere in the world, and less obvious in others," he adds.
The European market is also still quite challenging for fiber access broadband network rollouts, notes Finnie, with the up-front costs of delivering gigabit services still relatively high in Europe. "There are some specific hurdles. In western Europe, it's generally more expensive to lay fiber than in eastern Europe, or in the US or Asia, and many are starting from a very low FTTH base, so that's a barrier. Lower prices relative to cost may also lead telcos to hold back on investment, and some also complain that regulators don't give them enough breaks to justify fiber in the final kilometer."
Yet some operators are offering gigabit broadband, as Finnie notes in his upcoming report, "Is Europe Ready for Gigabit Cities?" Two of those operators, Altibox and JT , are sharing their experiences and business cases during keynote presentations at the Gigabit Europe event, while others such as BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), CityFibre and M-net Telekommunikations GmbH will also discuss how they are investing in networks that are paving the way for gigabit services.
For more on gigabit and the evolution of broadband services in Europe, see:
- BT Outlines Conditional Gigabit Vision for UK
- Hyperoptic Takes Gigabit to Glasgow
- Gigabit Broadband: What's the Business Case?
- DT Notches Up 1.5M Quad-Play Customers
- Eurobites: BT Boasts 330 Mbit/s With G.fast Field Trial
- XG-PON Is Alive in Europe… for Now
- Gigabit Europe: Where Beer & Broadband Come Together
- TalkTalk Unveils Cut-Price Gigabit Service
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading