The adoption of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in Europe continues to grow apace, with Russia emerging as the region’s clear leader after a dramatic 42% increase in FTTH connections in the second half of 2012, according to new figures from the FTTH Council Europe.
Russia added 2.2mn new FTTH subscribers in the six months to December 2012 – more than all of the 27 member states of the European Union combined – to reach a total of 7.5mn fibre-connected homes.
Across the EU27 countries, the number of FTTH subscribers continued to grow at an accelerated rate of 15% in the second half of 2012, with 820,000 subscribers added, bringing the total number of fibre-connected homes to 6.24mn.
Scandinavia, Baltic countries and the Netherlands contributed 26% of these new subscribers, Eastern European economies 33%, and France and Portugal 30%.
The top five “dynamic” economies were Turkey, Ukraine, Spain, Bulgaria and Russia. In Turkey, FTTH subscribers more than doubled in the last year, while Spain (a new entrant in the FTTH ranking) also made strong progress.
“Eastern Europe and Scandinavian countries have reinforced their position as fibre leaders, and the disparity between the early and late adopters is becoming even more apparent,” said Karin Ahl, President of the FTTH Council Europe.
“These FTTH leaders are gaining an economic advantage over their less well-connected neighbours. Good communications infrastructure helps to retain existing businesses and attract new ones.
“Fibred-up nations can make a head start on deploying new services like remote health care and smart grid technologies. Countries that delay the roll out of FTTH are looking at a serious lost opportunity to prepare for their economic future.”
The industry body believes many of the major western economies are “dragging their feet over fibre”: once again, Germany and the UK failed to qualify for the Council’s ranking, which requires a country to have more than 1% of households connected via fibre.
The rollout of fibre broadband across Europe was dealt a major blow recently with the news that the EU’s €9bn fund for rural broadband is being scrapped, after UK Prime Minister David Cameron successfully pushed for a 3% cut in the EU’s seven-year budget.