The number of FTTH/B subscribers in Europe is expected to more than double in the next six years, to 208 million in 2026 compared to an estimated 86 million this year. According to the forecasts by iDate presented at the annual FTTH Council Europe conference, the number of homes passed will grow over the same period to 317 million from 195 million. That means an around two-thirds penetration rate on the fibre networks, compared to less than half currently.
The forecasts cover 39 countries across Europe. Idate also looked at the 27 EU members plus the UK and found similar growth rates. The number of FTTH/B subscribers in these countries is expected to roughly triple by 2026, to 148 million from 49 million this year, driven by accelerating roll-out in key markets such as Germany, the UK and Italy. Homes passed in the 28 countries are estimated at 202 million in 2026, versus 105 million this year.
While the Covid crisis has underlined the need for fast broadband at home, other trends were already underway to support fibre take-up, the researchers said. These include the upcoming switch-off of copper networks, more network-sharing and co-investment agreements, strong commitments from public authorities to FTTH, and the need for fibre backhaul on 5G mobile networks.
The FTTH Council Europe published a separate study by Wik following up on its research last year into the progress with copper shutdowns. While the situation is fragmented in Europe, progress in some countries shows turning off copper and switching to fibre can have significant benefits for the economy and the environment, as well as improving reliability and customer satisfaction.
Consumer awareness about the copper shutdown has been a positive factor in some countries in stimulating fibre take-up. The latest forecasts on fibre take-up are also based in part on the increased perception of broadband’s importance since the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, additional measures by policy-makers aimed at increasing take-up are still crucial for Europe to benefit from the potential of full fibre, the Council said.