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Fibre up, broadband up, IPTV up in Europe

Fibre-to-home numbers up 43 per cent

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Broadband World Forum Numbers announced at the Broadband World Forum point to a continued rise in fibre deployments, with the dual conclusions that Lithuania and Norway are the most fibred up countries and that both Hungary and the Ukraine are joining the world's leading 'fibre to the home' (FTTH) economies, with a sudden burst of pace.

The report came from French researcher iDate and showed that Europe enjoyed a 24 per cent rise in the number of fibre-to-the-home subscribers in the first half of 2011. The work was carried out on behalf of the FTTH Council Europe.

The report excluded the prodigious Russia, which is laying fibre like there is no tomorrow, and showed that there are now 5 million fibre-to-the-home or fibre-to-the-building broadband subscribers to June 2011. Fibre deployments now pass 28 million homes.

If you add Russia, which added 964,000 new fibre subs in the first half, taking the country to a total of 5.15 million, then Europe has 10.2 million customers and passes 39.8 million homes. No one else ever includes Russia in their European figures, but a curious preference for fibre, driven as much by low labour costs, and the green field nature of many sites and a complete lack of copper in some parts of the country, makes it a hotbed of fibre.

Baltic countries and Europe's new member states are beginning to copy Russia because of some similar circumstances, which is why Hungary and the Ukraine are now ranked 11th and 16th in fibre percentage penetration respectively with 235,055 and 450,000 subs.

The report points out that each of the top 10 FTTH nations has a penetration rate of at least 6 per cent, with countries like the UK, Germany and Spain not featured in the ranking. The FTTH Council Europe may think this is a disaster, we think that is because of the infrastructure is already in place in those countries, and shows that ISPs are going through the gears of DSL, with resulting lower cost deployments.

Meanwhile Point Topic, which collects data for the Broadband Forum, announced that IPTV has now passed 50 million subscribers globally in its latest report.

It says that broadband growth is steady with 558 million homes, up 29 million in first six months of 2011 and that France remains the largest IPTV country with 50 per cent of its broadband customers now subscribing to IPTV.

It also makes some noises about FTTH and FTTx technologies which it says are now 14.8 per cent of the global broadband market share, which when taken with the iDate figures really shows how far behind Western Europe is, and will continue to be.

Point Topic said that service providers are pushing for more PON (passive optical network) product interoperability, to help drive out testing overhead and stimulate more competitive pricing for fibre.

In broadband generally the Asian markets have put on 55.5 per cent of the total net additions in the year to end of June 2011, and 61 per cent of the net additions in the quarter. China continues to dominate the world rankings for broadband, accounting for over 45.7 per cent of all subscriptions added in the quarter and 39.9 per cent in the 12 months to June 2011. In terms of percentage growth during the year, Brazil and Russia in fact outpaced the top 10 countries, with increases of over 20 per cent for the 12 months to June 2011.

"India, currently at number 11, is likely to break into the top 10 by the end of the year at the latest," predicts Point Topic’s Oliver Johnson. "Given the growth rates in India and Mexico currently and the headroom they have left to expand they could well force their way into one of the top spots soon," says Johnson.

Finally it says that IPTV will reach 60 million subscriptions just in the EU by 2020, about three times the number it has now, with Europe also growing to 160 million broadband subscribers by 2020.

Copyright © 2011, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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