Dramatic Rise in European High-Speed Broadband and 4G Coverage

  • IHS
LONDON, UK — Super-fast FTTP broadband numbers in Europe are up, according to recent research conducted by IHS, a global source of critical information and insight, and Valdani, Vicari & Associati on the availability of broadband services across all European Union member states, published by the European Commission (EC). The EC’s Digital Agenda Scoreboard shows a dramatic improvement in 4G LTE coverage as well.

Fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) coverage — providing super-fast broadband connections — increased, with services available to 18.7 percent of European households. Baltic countries traditionally lead in availability of FTTP services. In 2014 Lithuania and Latvia remained the two countries with the highest FTTP coverage, with homes passed by FTTP reaching nearly 95 percent of households in Lithuania and 83.2 percent of households in Latvia.

However, the strongest growth in FTTP coverage compared to 2013 was recorded in Portugal and Spain, where FTTP coverage increased by 16.1 and 22.1 percentage points respectively, reaching 65.8 percent of Portuguese and 44.8 percent of Spanish homes. “It is worth pointing out that in Portugal and Spain, network operators in recent years introduced a new strategic model based on network sharing and cooperation on joint roll-out of FTTP networks,” Alzbeta Fellenbaum, senior analyst at IHS Technology said.

Other findings:

  • At the end of 2014, 4G LTE mobile broadband was available to nearly 8 in 10 (79.4 percent) of EU households, a 20 percentage point increase compared to 2013 and the fastest growing of the followed technologies.

  • Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband coverage reached 68.1 percent of EU homes, making high-speed (at least 30 Mbps) broadband services available to 15.5 million households more than in 2013.

  • Fixed broadband coverage remained the same as in 2013 at 97 percent, pointing to slowing trajectory as member states rather focus on NGA and mobile technologies.

  • At 89.6 percent, rural fixed broadband coverage also stayed at its 2013 level, but availability of NGA technologies in rural areas increased from 18.1 percent in 2013 to 25.1 percent of rural homes passed by high-speed networks in 2014.


“Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden lead the European Union, with 99 percent of households covered by LTE,” said Fellenbaum. “Other countries with outstanding performance in LTE coverage also include the Czech Republic and Malta, which saw an increase in coverage from 12 percent to 91.9 percent and from no coverage to 67 percent, respectively.”

Data Confirms Preference for Upgrading Existing Copper Networks
The growth in overall NGA coverage can be primarily attributed to an increase in very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) coverage, which grew by over seven percentage points in the year, reaching 37.6 percent of EU households by the end of 2014.

The fact that VDSL continues to be the fastest-growing NGA technology further solidifies the shift observed in 2013, with companies in many study countries refocusing their broadband deployment strategies towards upgrading existing copper networks rather than investing in the typically more costly (although generally longer-lived) deployment of fiber optic all the way to consumers’ homes.

“VDSL coverage grew significantly in a number of markets,” Fellenbaum said. “Most significant increases were recorded in Denmark, Austria, and Iceland, all reporting increases in VDSL coverage exceeding 30 percentage points.”

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