Spending on FTTH in developed countries to reach nearly $44 billion over next five years

Nearly $44 billion will be spent in developed economies between now and 2017 on fiber to the home (FTTH) rather than the alternative solution, very-high-bit rate digital subscriber lines (VDSL), according to a new forecast from Analysys Mason.

The FTTH expenditure represents about 82 percent of the $53.5 billion that's predicted to be spent in on fiber rollouts during the period.

A new Analysys Mason report, "FTTx roll-out and capex in developed economies: forecasts 2012–2017," predicts nearly $26 billion of the total over the next five years will be spent in Western Europe. Those countries in which major operators focus on FTTC and VDSL will generally have much higher availability of next-generation broadband in five years, according to the report.

However, the report points out that there is a danger associated with a pure FTTH play for operators. That is, cable TV and 4G mobile operators will be able to upgrade more quickly than telcos. However, new enhanced DSL technologies, such as vectoring and bonding, will make it easier for operators to keep pace with cable competitors and one step ahead of any challenge from mobile operators to their core broadband businesses, the report says.

"Given the as yet untapped potential of copper over short distances, we wonder whether it is really sensible at this stage to take fiber right to people's homes," says Rupert Wood, author of the report and lead analyst for Analysys Mason's Fixed Networks research program.

Next-generation access (NGA) appears to be gaining some momentum in Europe, the report notes. Five years after its launch, NGA take-up rates for telcos of 25 percent or more in covered areas seem achievable. The report also indicates that the business case for NGA is not always best where the cost is lowest. The most critical factors are more likely to be income levels and previously poor quality broadband provision, the report says.