Europe’s cable operators are taking advantage of efficiencies within DOCSIS 3 to deliver Capex efficiencies well ahead of their telco competitors, according to an analysis prepared for Cable Europe by Fitch Ratings.
Fitch says that the rollout of high-speed broadband services running at speeds in excess of 100 Mbps has been achieved at a relatively modest cost, putting incumbent telcos already reluctant to invest in fibre at an increasing disadvantage.
“This resistance to invest in fibre has been further exacerbated by ongoing decisions on whether to invest in fibre to the curb (FTTC), fibre to the home
(FTTH), or a hybrid of the two, and where and when to invest. Regulatory concerns over the permitted return and regulated access to the incumbents’ fibre networks also remain an issue in a number of European markets,” writes Stuart Reid, senior director, TMT Group, Fitch Ratings in the latest edition of Cable News.
This is typified in the UK where Virgin Media has upgraded its network to offer customers current speeds of 50 Mbps at a cost estimated by Fitch to be no more than £300 million. By contrast BT group has committed to spending £1.5 billion over the next four years on its hybrid FTTC/FTTH build covering 10 million homes.
Fitch identifies the UK, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands as the markets where incumbents face the most significant threat from cablecos, while the lower levels of network build and a weaker financial profile in France and Spain has resulted in a less threatening cable sector.
Contrasting the United States with Europe, Fitch points out that US incumbents such as Verizon committed to the build out of fibre-to-the-home some three years ago, while their European equivalents have continued to struggle with regulatory matters.