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14 February 2011.
The number of FTTH subscribers in Europe increased 18% in the last six months to reach nearly 3.9 million (8.1 million including Russia), according to the latest update to the FTTH Rankings announced by the FTTH Council Europe at its annual conference in Milan, Italy.  However, the industry needs to accelerate deployment if it is to meet EU targets, warned Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda.
“While the EU broadband market is moving towards higher speeds because of fibre and cable, time is against us,” she told delegates during her plenary speech.  “The current rate of new connections – now down to 25,000 a day – is simply not enough to meet our 2020 targets.”
Development of FTTH is not evenly distributed.  Lithuania tops the European Ranking with Sweden and Norway in second and third places, while Russia is the largest market in absolute numbers, followed by Sweden and France.  Some countries, notably Latvia, Portugal, Russia and Turkey are expanding FTTH coverage rapidly, while others like Germany, Spain and the UK, are lagging behind.
Regulation of next-generation access (NGA) networks also varies widely across Europe – something Commissioner Kroes is clearly unhappy about.  “Whatever may be the variations in local conditions, I am afraid that these highly diverse national approaches [to regulation] will not contribute to a stable European approach to NGA roll-out and competition,” she said.  The Commission believes that appropriate regulation is important because it helps to create favourable conditions for investment in new networks and prevent the emergence of new monopolies.
By Pauline Rigby.