Europe’s broadband sector continues to develop steadily as more people connect to the internet to access IP-delivered content. Some of the stimulus has come from popular attraction to OTT services such as videostreaming. With Netflix now available across the region, and with telcos and a plethora of other videostreaming providers entering the market, a greater number of households are choosing IP-delivered content in preference to cable and linear TV. This is a trend seen in other developed markets, particularly North America.
With households now commonly having multiple devices, the delivery of such services requires upgraded broadband technologies across the key DSL, HFC and fibre platforms. There is continuing investment in the fibre sector, despite the higher cost of deployment and continuing uncertainties in some markets related to wholesale access and pricing controls. More recently there has been considerable investment in DSL-based G.fast technology, particularly in Switzerland, the UK and Germany. This can a deliver symmetrical 1Gb/s service more cost effectively than fibre, and though it remains at the trial stage a commercial service is expected in 2017. Similarly, there is growing interest in DOCSIS3.1 technology (recently standardised), which can deliver data at up to 1Gb/s and which is scalable to 10Gb/s. As of mid-2016 there were only a few commercial deployments (notably in Denmark and Finland), though trials are underway (in the UK and Germany). Given the reach of HFC networks in the region, the new iteration of the DOCSIS standard will provide a significant boost for cablecos as they compete with a growing number of FttP deployments in their network areas.
Although overall growth in the subscriber base has slowed in many markets as a result of high broadband penetration there remains considerable growth potential in Southern and Eastern European countries. Some of these, including Romania, Estonia and Lithuania, are at the forefront of fibre broadband deployment.
With DSL, many operators are deploying vectoring technology in a bid to improve copper-based data rates. This is aimed at reaching broadband targets set by national governments as well as by the European Commission (EC). The EC had ambitious regional targets set for 2020, which included the universal provision of 30Mb/s by 2020. This target is being revised, with the EC in September having formulated a scheme to provide a universal 100Mb/s service by 2025 complemented by 1Gb/s access available to businesses and public areas (such as government buildings, schools and libraries) as well as access to 5G across the region.
European Commission works towards Digital Single Market strategy, aiming for universal 100Mb/s broadband service by 2025; EC promoted 1Gb/s service for businesses and public areas; free Wi-Fi anticipated for up to 8,000 locations funded by €120 million project; strong growth in NGA accesses; more telcos involved in G.fast trials; HFC networks taking larger share of super-fast connections; broadband reaches 95% of all citizens; commercial DOCSIS3.1 services launched.
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