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A Quick Look at FTTP Broadband Adoption Across UK and Europe

Friday, Mar 1st, 2024 (2:22 pm) - Score 3,960
Point-Topic-FTTP-Adoption-in-Europe-and-UK-Q1-2024

New research from Point Topic has revealed how the adoption rates of “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband ISP networks vary between 30 countries within Europe (i.e. how many subscribers take the service vs premises passed). Overall, the average take-up stands at 54.4% (up from 53.3% in mid-2021), while the UK scores just 34.7%.

Before we get started it’s important to understand that take-up is a dynamic measure, which is linked to the age of a network (i.e. how long it’s been live), how much of a country has been covered by it and the pace of build (i.e. a rapid roll-out tends to suppress percentage-based adoption figures). Social and economic factors, such as consumer awareness, affordability and demand, also have a role to play.

NOTE: Point Topic’s data harks back to Q2 2022, which is sadly a natural a caveat of large country comparisons (i.e. it’s hard to get an alignment of current data across multiple counties).

The aforementioned context is important because, unlike many of the other European states in this study, the United Kingdom arrived to the full fibre party quite late (large scale-deployments). Put another way, the mass market roll-out is still only a few years young (we’re a decade behind some countries) and the roll-out pace is fairly rapid, thus we can’t yet expect to match much longer established FTTP deployments for take-up. Not to mention that the eventual retirement of copper lines will ultimately make this measure less relevant, which well-established countries (for fibre) like Iceland and Sweden help to show.

As of mid-2022, the fibre adoption rate ranged from 10.9% in Austria and Greece, to as high as 93% in Iceland, with the average among the 30 European countries standing at 54.4%. Between 2021 and 2022, the largest positive change in the FTTP adoption rate occurred in Sweden, where it went up from 77.3% to 90.3% (+13%). Sweden is one of Europe’s oldest markets for FTTP.

Point-Topic-FTTP-Adoption-in-Europe-Q1-2024-Country-Table

The UK and Belgium both showed high growth in FTTP subscribers, and their numbers more than doubled (+85.1% in the UK and +67.6% in Belgium). FTTP deployment in the UK is currently in full swing (homes passed shot up by +58.9% in 2021-2022), although this process has slowed down during 2023 due to the challenging economic climate (not yet reflected in the older data above).

Nevertheless, the FTTP adoption rate in the UK still managed to reach 34.7%, which is about what you’d expect for this stage of development, although we’ve clearly got a lot of catching up to do.

NOTE: At present more than 60% of UK premises can access FTTP and that rises to a shade over 80% for gigabit-capable broadband (the latter adds Virgin Media’s coax network).
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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
16 Responses
  1. Avatar photo ManicMiner says:

    Some interesting variations compared with a previous data-set here https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2023/10/opensignal-compare-european-and-uk-mobile-broadband-speeds.html.

    Makes one wonder what’s actually happening differently across countries; for example France seems to be doing very strongly, Sweden very well in terms of coverage but less so speed, and UK not great in terms of adoption.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      That’s a very complicated one to answer. For example, I recall many years back, when Sweden was just launching gigabit plans, that a lot of consumers were complaining of slow speeds due to congestion. Suffice to say that getting the line into the ground is only part of the challenge. You also have to consider the consumer choice of package / price, impacts from home WiFi and the testing methodology etc. etc. etc. the list is very long. Country to country comparisons are a minefield.

    2. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      I don’t see any analysis of the alternatives available in each country. In the UK VMO2’s HFC network is available to around 50% of premises, reducing the incentive to move to FTTP purely for performance reasons.

    3. Avatar photo ManicMiner says:

      Brilliant, thanks Mark.

  2. Avatar photo RR-THE-IT-GUY says:

    France did not really deploy VDSL only ADSL and FTTP, they weren’t stupid deploying old, slower and simply less reliable rubbish technologies like VDSL when better alternatives existed meaning that areas that are covered tend to have one option FTTP or ADSL, the big cities sometimes have cable but those are few and far between, those with ADSL have to pay more than FTTP so makes sense to me, in the UK the cost difference is more on FTTP even compared to VDSL so isn’t really a feasible option for some.

    I have some lines in France and there is one premises that cannot have the FTTP due to a blocked duct which in France you are responsible to unblock, as I don’t have a digger and don’t want to dig up the required 2M depth (by regulation) via the cemetery that the cables run through (being directly next door) (yes I know, very spooky at night), I haven’t got the service, however the alternative “best option” is either 3Mbps ADSL or 800Mbps 5G with a directional area on the roof (the option in use), which is around the same cost.

    1. Avatar photo Bob says:

      With no real competition in the UK BT were happy to sweat the old copper network for as long as possible

    2. Avatar photo Clive peters says:

      two meters! does that apply everywhere?

  3. Avatar photo Josh says:

    Not sure what’s going on with Finland’s negative change (unless I am misunderstanding the graph)

    1. Avatar photo Steven says:

      It’s in the article linked:

      “At the other end of the spectrum, fibre adoption rate fell from 97.5% to 83.3% in Finland (-14.2%). In this country, the number of FTTP homes passed grew by 26% while the number of fibre broadband subscribers increased by only 7.6%. Nevertheless, fibre adoption in Finland is still much higher than the EU average.”

    2. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

      Finland has rollled out even more fibre but it takes some time for customers to switch. So ironically that makes their take up percentage lower for a while.

  4. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    It would be interesting to know if anyone else has adopted the free-for-all model that the UK has

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Yes and no. PIA-type solutions are pretty common. NBN-type solutions are pretty unusual.

      Somewhere like a Spain or Portugal has very high take up partially because copper has been switched off.

      What they don’t have is the exact combination of mess that is the UK’s regulatory environment.

      Overbuild and loads of networks competing in some areas while others wait for full fibre is absolutely a thing.

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      How much has the disruption from multiple Fibre road works cost the UK. It is probably a lot but very difficult to quantify

      It would have been far better to have only one competing Fibre network in each region. The competing network being an open network n the same manner as BT and the open network being wholesale only

      If the above had happened the rollout would have been a lost faster and lower costs whilst still ensuring competition

      We will probably end up with something like the above but there will be a long and slow transition as all these Alt nets slowly consolidate

  5. Avatar photo AJR says:

    This is good insight. I hope the crew pushing immediate XGS or even faster speeds can at least sympathise with providers opting for the cheaper (and eaaily upgradeable) GPON solution when take up is so low in the UK.

    Inflation and wider economic piece likely playing a significant role in the slow take up.

  6. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Perhaps a lot of people who have 50mbs download speeds are happy and don’t see a need to jump to fibre unless forced to.
    After all you only need 30mbs to stream 4K.
    A lot of households are absolutely fine on superfast copper connections.

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