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Europe enjoying broadband by light

But UK still in the dark

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There are now over one million fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband connections in Europe, according to an Informa report.

While Sweden leads FTTH deployments, the UK isn't even on the chart.

Across Western Europe 1.4 per cent of broadband users are connected by fibre, but in Sweden that rises to over 27 per cent of its 2.34 million users.

Laying fibre is much more expensive than squeezing more bandwidth out of 20-year-old copper, but once it's been laid fibre offers many times the bandwidth of alternatives.

For private companies there's little incentive to make that kind of investment, so where FTTH has been deployed it's generally by utilities or local authorities which then allow any company to offer services over the fibre.

Up to now, anyone deciding to build a FTTH network has been forced to run around making deals with those wishing to utilise the network (telephone, television, and internet companies mainly), but in Sweden a new service called Citynet Access is attempting to standardise deals across the country. If the model works it should make it easier for new deployments to find customers, and justify their costs.

Even with such arrangements in place, investment in FTTH is very long-term - probably longer than most private companies would be prepared to accept. ®

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