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Europe accelerates its FTTH deployment

FTTH Market Panorama, our annual survey, reveals the current state of fiber in Europe and for the first time this year, over half of the 39 countries surveyed have a homes-passed coverage above 50 percent. While this is an important milestone, it demonstrates that we are only half way and still have much work to do. Three countries, Germany, UK, and Italy, represent close to 60 percent of the homes still to be connected while others like Belgium, Austria, Switzerland also have far to go before reaching full coverage.

Looking ahead, our forecasts show a net acceleration of FTTH deployment across Europe and the COVID-19 crisis has probably contributed to this evolution. Each year, between now and 2026, we expect to see an yearly average of 20 million new homes passed and nearly 19 million new FTTH subscribers across Europe. These efforts are now supported by a surge in FTTH investment.

The Recovery and Resilience Facility is a program that has been set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic and makes available up to 672 billion in loans and grants, supporting investments and reforms undertaken by EU member states. A key condition for access to the facility is that a minimum of 20 percent of efforts must support digital transition, with FTTH and 5G networks being identified as the main areas of focus.

While the billions of euros from the EU Recovery Fund may make most of the headlines and represent important public support, let us make no mistake, the bulk of investments for FTTH comes from the private sector. And we have good news. Investments in fiber network projects have never been more attractive. They are now seen as safe and profitable long-term investments, particularly for infrastructure funds.

The challenge now is to develop the most successful fiber business models and for this reason, The FTTH Council Europe has published a comprehensive guide on this topic. Based on the experience of eight existing operators, this comprehensive analysis describes the different business approaches, from vertical integration to wholesale-only models. The study goes into the details of the financing models and shares success factors at operational and commercial level. With this initiative, we hope to help investors and operators in their efforts to maximize the business value of FTTH and further develop their networks.

The development of full-fiber networks in Europe will also be driven by the development of 5G. Compared to the previous generation, 5G mobile networks are delivering considerably more data at much lower levels of latency. Simply put, 5G is more than 10 times faster than 4G and its latency is 10 times lower. Fiber is the only technology capable of delivering such large volumes of data to new 5G antennas. The other technologies do not offer enough bandwidth and fail to enable low latency. Therefore, every 5G antenna must be connected to a full-fiber access network.

Furthermore, 5G networks will require many more antennas than 4G. The higher-frequency version of 5G, which uses millimeter wave technology, will impose up to 20 times greater antenna density than 4G. Antennas will have to be few hundred meters away from users in dense urban areas to deliver the best of 5G to all subscribers. In summary, 5G cannot exist without full-fiber access networks and as 5G antenna networks develop in scope and density, the need for fiber will grow exponentially.

As you may be aware, the FTTH Council Europe is a not-for-profit association, with mission to promote full-fiber technology as the true future-proof way to enable a digital and sustainable Europe and bring prosperity for generations to come. The Council comprises more than 150 members, representing the entire value chain of the fiber network from manufacturers and service providers to operators and investors – a unique ecosystem of expertise dedicated to the promotion of full fiber and creation of value for our members.

The FTTH Council Europe supports the FTTH ecosystem by providing expert insights into technologies, markets, policy, and regulation. It is the single best place to network among peers and explore business opportunities.

The Council will deliver its 17th annual FTTH Conference in virtual format on September 15–16. Why not join us and contribute to the debate? For more information and to register go to

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