Page last updated at 06:41 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 07:41 UK

Home fibre plans survive downturn

Telephone cables, BT
The benefits of fibre to the home go beyond speed

More than two million people in Europe now have fibre broadband direct to their home, suggests a survey.

The latest figures on superfast broadband delivered by fibre to the home (FTTH) shows 18% growth over the last survey compiled in late 2008.

The continued growth suggests that the global economic downturn has not hit plans to build a fibre infrastructure.

Sweden tops the list of nations rolling out the technology, with 10.9% of its broadband customers using fibre.

Karel Helsen, president of Europe's Fibre-To-The-Home Council, said the growth matched predictions that were revised when the credit crunch started to make itself felt.

1) Sweden - 10.9%
2) Norway - 10.2%
3) Slovenia - 8.9%
4) Andorra - 6.6%
5) Denmark- 5.7%
6) Iceland - 5.6%
7) Lithuania - 3.3%
8) Netherlands - 2.5%
9) Slovakia - 2.5%
10) Finland - 2.4%

"The numbers in 2009 are in line with the latest forecasts," said Mr Helsen.

By 2012, the FTTH Council expects that 13 million people across 35 European nations will have their broadband delivered by fibre. Such services would start at speeds of 100 megabits per second (mbps), said Mr Helsen.

Around Europe more than 233 projects were underway to lay the fibres that would connect homes or buildings to the net, said Mr Helsen. Many of those, he said, were being operated by local governments or smaller net firms.

Local governments were interested in FTTH because of the economic and social benefits it brought in its wake, said Mr Helsen.

The low latency or delay inherent in high-speed fibre networks made possible novel uses of broadband, he said.

"No delay is very important," he said, "specifically if you talk about applications that are time dependent such as personal communications, conference calls or video calls where delays cause a lot of interference."

While early FTTH services were concentrated in cities, said Mr Helsen, many more were reaching out to rural areas for e-health and e-learning projects.

Separate studies show that an FTTH infrastructure can have a direct impact on local economic output, said Mr Helsen.

The UK, France and Germany have yet to break into the list of top ten FTTH nations.

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