The number of Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) subscribers in Europe, including Russia, has increased by 22% over the past six months, thanks to a "booming" broadband market in Eastern Europe, according to new figures from the FTTH Council Europe which have been announced at the Broadband World Forum event currently taking place in Paris.
In absolute figures, Europe has now reached 3.2mn subscribers to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) / Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) services (or nearly 4.5mn including Russia). Network deployment is also continuing to bring fibre within reach of more homes, according to the study: Europe now counts 18mn homes passed by FTTH/B connections (or over 26mn homes when including Russia), a growth of more than 6% during the first half of 2010.
There are now believed to be more than 17 countries in Europe where more than 1% of households subscribe to broadband over a direct fibre connection. Lithuania is still the leader in terms of penetration of FTTH/B broadband, just ahead of the more mature FTTH markets of Sweden and Norway. The top five fibre nations now include three New European Member States: Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia.
There was also one new entrant - Romania - which enters the ranking in 13th place with more than 120,000 FTTH/B subscribers. Bulgaria is showing the fastest progression in the ranking, moving from 16th to 8th position during the first half of 2010, and increasing household penetration by 4 percentage points. Lithuania, still in first place, showed the second-fastest growth rate, boosting subscriber penetration by 3.3 percentage points.
“With Romania joining the Ranking, Bulgaria and Lithuania making such rapid progress as well as three other countries (Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia) increasing penetration by more than 1%, the New Member States are leading the drive for fibre to the home in Europe,” said Chris Holden, President of the FTTH Council Europe. “If we include Russia, today the majority of FTTH/B connections are found in the Eastern part of Europe.”
The majority of FTTH subscribers (74%) are concentrated in eight countries, in the following order: Sweden, France, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, The Netherlands, Denmark and Slovakia. Amongst these, six countries can boast more than 200,000 subscribers - and Denmark as well as Slovakia are getting close to this threshold.
Major European economies such as Italy and France are still at the bottom of the rankings, and others such as the UK, Germany and Spain are noticeably absent, although co-investment between operators and national plans initiated by governments could soon start to enhance FTTH/B coverage in those nations, according to the report.
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