Europe ended 2013 with 20.1 million fibre-to-the-home/building (FTTH/B) subscribers as adoption gathered pace, according to the FTTH Council Europe. However, there is still a long way to go before the region is considered a mature fibre market.
Growth in Europe increased by 29% last year, compared to 15% in 2012, with France and Sweden leading EU28 countries with more than 1.2 million FTTH/B subscribers each. When countries outside the EU are included – what the FTTH Council calls the EU39 – Russia remains the clear leader with nearly 9 million subscribers, followed by the Ukraine with 1.3 million.
Despite impressive growth, Europe is still a long way off being considered a mature fibre market. According to Heavy Reading, a fibre market reaches maturity when the number of households that subscribe to FTTH/B exceeds 20%.
So far nine countries have reached the required threshold, three of which – Lithuania, Sweden at Latvia – are in Europe.
"We need to do more and I can't help but feel that some policy makers underestimate the danger of not getting to FTTH networks quickly enough," said Karin Ahl, president of the FTTH Council Europe, in a statement.
"Within the next 30 years, 70% of the economy is likely to be driven by firms and products we know nothing about today," she noted.
The United Arab Emirates leads the ranking with 85% of households subscribing to FTTH/B services. The top five is completed by South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
China ranks 16th while the U.S. ranks 21st behind Malaysia and ahead of Hungary. The U.K. still does not make the FTTH Council's list because FTTH/B household uptake is still below 1%.
In terms of overall subscriber numbers, China and Japan still lead the world with 37 million and 24.7 million FTTH/B subscribers respectively.