Key Findings from European Case Studies
Sweden: Large public investments in Fiber-to-the Premise (FTTP) failed to create any significant advantages in terms of NGA coverage. At 57%, Sweden’s NGA coverage ranks 20th out of 28 EU countries and is only slightly above the 2012 EU benchmark of 54%. The shortcomings of emphasizing FTTP without the support of collateral technologies are manifest in Sweden’s poor rural NGA coverage, which was roughly half that of the rest of Europe and one eighth that of the U.S. While Sweden’s commitment to FTTP has no doubt yielded impressive service in Stockholm and other cities, those benefits were not available on a nationwide basis.
France: Claims about France as a leader in Internet service do not withstand scrutiny. At 24% NGA coverage, France languished at below half the EU rate and ranks 25th out of 28 EU countries, well behind the U.S. Rural NGA and LTE coverage were virtually nonexistent. These poor results undermine claims that the French approach of mandating infrastructure sharing should be emulated.
Italy: Despite promising early efforts in FTTP, Italian broadband policy is something of a disappointment. Its NGA coverage of 14% ranked last in the EU. As of January 2014, the objective of ensuring that all Italian citizens had access to standard broadband by the end of 2013 had not been achieved. Standard broadband (defined as 144 kbps) was available in only 91% of rural areas. NGA coverage has lagged even farther behind.
Denmark: Denmark has achieved widespread NGA coverage, backed by a strong cable infrastructure resulting from a government-subsidized effort to create a hybrid data-video network. Here the incumbent telephone provider continued to own the leading cable company. Though there was widespread NGA coverage, FTTP deployments by energy companies stalled, and rural NGA coverage remained disappointing.
Spain: Spain’s ability to achieve strong NGA numbers in light of its demographic characteristics and the weak legacy of cable television is impressive. Spain is a good example of a country where cable made the primary contribution to NGA coverage, but the increase from 2011 to 2012 was driven primarily by FTTP.
Netherlands: The Netherlands has a unique fixed line access infrastructure. Due to municipal subsidies, it is among the most densely cabled countries in the world, which made two fixed-line connections available in 92% of Dutch homes. The privatization of these networks resulted in today’s market with strong competition between cable television operators. Two high-profile FTTP ventures have garnered a fair amount of attention, but have yet to have a significant impact.
United Kingdom and Germany: Both the United Kingdom and Germany were able to achieve impressive NGA coverage levels despite having trivially small investments in FTTP. Both countries relied on NGA coverage from cable broadband and a VDSL strategy based on vectoring.