VDSL to rule European broadband says Point Topic

Despite the efforts of organizations such as the FTTH Council Europe, most Europeans will receive their broadband services via copper-based broadband access network technologies such as VDSL, predicts Point Topic in a new report, “VDSL in Europe’s Future.” In fact, the analyst firm asserts that a copper-centric strategy “offers the best solution for providing superfast broadband across most of Europe, for both technical and financial reasons,” in the words of a press release announcing the report.

Despite the efforts of organizations such as the FTTH Council Europe, most Europeans will receive their broadband services via copper-based broadband access network technologies such as VDSL, predicts Point Topic in a new report, “VDSL in Europe’s Future.” In fact, the analyst firm asserts that a copper-centric strategy “offers the best solution for providing superfast broadband across most of Europe, for both technical and financial reasons,” in the words of a press release announcing the report.

Point Topic says its research shows that VDSL, in a fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) configuration, is quite capable of meeting the 30-Mbps target laid out in the European Commission’s Digital Agenda. While current VDSL services may only consistently reach these levels in some areas, the arrival of VDSL2 vectoring should solve this problem when it becomes more widely deployed next year. With the promise of vectoring on the horizon, VDSL deployments have risen substantially; the number of households that can subscribe to such services increased by 5.6% to reach 24.9% by the end of 2012.

The use of other broadband approaches is growing as well. The footprint of DOCSIS 3.0, for example, grew by 2.7% to reach 39.3% and remains ahead of VDSL for now. Meanwhile, fiber to the premises (FTTP) coverage grew 2.4% and now covers 12.3% of the EU.

However, the economics behind VDSL should enable it to achieve stronger growth rates than either DOCSIS or FTTP. Point Topic believes most European cable MSOs have completed their DOCSIS 3.0 deployments. And FTTP expansion will require building new networks, which is economically unappealing in the low-density areas to which operators are now turning their attention, the analysts say.

So why DOCSIS 3.0 and FTTP deployments won’t stop, VDSL rollouts will grow much more quickly and become Europe’s predominant broadband technology. “We forecast that VDSL will reach 73% of European homes by 2020, while DOCSIS 3 cable will cover 45% and FTTP only 16%,” says Tim Johnson, lead author of the report.

That said, Point Topic believes that only 90% of European homes will have access to superfast fixed-line broadband by 2020, which means the Digital Agenda’s objective of 100% will not be met. FTTP has a strong chance of being the technology used to overcome this shortfall beyond 2020, meaning total FTTP coverage could be 21% or more beyond 2020, Point Topic believes.

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