Digitalisation will be at the core of the European Green Deal and fibre is key to align the digital and sustainability agendas. As the most sustainable telecommunication infrastructure technology, full-fibre is a prerequisite to achieving the European Green Deal and making the European Union’s economy more sustainable.
The need to work collectively towards a more sustainable society has become a strategic objective of policy makers and the vast majority of private organisations alike. With this context in mind, the sustainability Working Group of the FTTH Council Europe has been created.
What is the current state of FTTH in Europe and what will the trend look like here in the next few years?
Fiber rollouts are taking place at an increasingly fast pace in Europe. Figures at September 2020 from our latest Market Panorama demonstrate that three European economies that are now intensifying their fiber rollout – Germany, Italy, and the UK – have the most growth potential in the EU27+UK region. With fiber deployment progressing, extending the FTTH coverage to low-density areas is now a new challenge – our first overview on FTTH/B deployments in rural areas reports only 22 percent of rural inhabitants enjoying full-fiber connectivity, compared to 45 percent for all territories in EU27+UK.
The EU is pushing to accelerate fiber deployments. Are the governments doing enough to accomplish the EC targets for 2030?
The EU is making very significant progress in meeting its connectivity targets. With its Path to the Digital Decade, the European Commission spelled out very clear targets for 2030. This program gives member states the possibility to take an active role in shaping their digital agenda for the next ten years, thus making it possible for them to reach such ambitious goals. The regulatory toolbox is now in place with the European Electronic Regulatory Code, and a mix of private and public investments is, therefore, the next trigger for member states to push fiber deployments further and to fulfil the 2030 targets for infrastructures.
Nevertheless, there are two key factors to examine when it comes to public funding. Firstly, public support should be earmarked toward areas where private investment is not viable. We would advocate for a case-by-case approach, given that some less dense areas can potentially be commercially attractive. This will allow public money to be used exclusively in regions where private financing is not possible. Secondly, we believe that to make the best use of public funds, only future-proof projects should be financed. This means that projects supported with public funding should only be tagged very-high-capacity networks (VHCN), in accordance with the European Electronic Communications Code, which we understand as FTTH/B.
Sustainability is always more top of mind within the fiber industry. How is the Council contributing to the path toward a more sustainable society?
As the most sustainable telecommunication infrastructure, full-fiber is a prerequisite to achieve the European Green Deal and make the European Union’s economy more sustainable. As a result, the need to work collectively toward a more sustainable society has become a strategic objective not only for policy makers but also for the vast majority of private organisations that are part of the FTTH value chain, the FTTH Council Europe included, as reaffirmed in our joint statement with Breko and Europacable.
With this context in mind, the FTTH Council Europe’s Sustainability Working Group has the objective of promoting full-fiber as the most sustainable access network technology and enabler of multiple applications, which can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of our activities. As part of its commitment for a greener society, the Working Group will soon launch the initiative Fiber for the Planet. This is a series of successful case studies from members of the FTTH Council Europe, showcasing how they are actively engaged in reducing carbon emissions in their activities.
The project stands out as the first of its kind, with more companies likely to join the initiative. Check back for updates on our website to learn more: https://ftthcouncil.eu/committees/sustainability-working-group/fiber-for-the-planet