Discussion Papers

No. 442: Impact of HFC networks on FTTx investment in Europe (June 2019)

Authors: Fabian Queder, Marcus Stronzik, Christian Wernick

(full version only available in German)


The objective of this paper is to investigate the influence of the existence of HFC networks on the investment behaviour of incumbents and alternative suppliers in the EU 28 for the period between 2011 and 2017.

Most European cable networks were already established before the liberalisation of the telecommunications markets for the purpose of distributing TV content. Due to the ownership and organisational unbundling of cable and telecommunications providers, the upgrading of the originally uni- to bi-directional networks and the introduction of the DOCSIS standard as the basis for high-performance broadband products, cable network operators have become the main alternative competitors on the market for broadband services in numerous Member States.

In contrast to earlier econometric studies, our results for the EU 28 reveal a high level of complexity with regard to the interplay between HFC and FTTx roll-out:

  • In 2011, there is a strong correlation between cable and FTTx coverage. In 2017, however, this correlation can no longer be observed.
  • For the period from 2011 to 2017, the existence of cable networks has had a negative impact on investment in new FTTx infrastructures.
  • Expansion investments in cable networks, on the other hand, have led to counter-investments by incumbents and alternative providers.

Even though it is difficult to make generalised statements with regard to further developments at member state level due to the heterogeneous conditions, our overall results suggest that it cannot be assumed that over time there will be a comprehensive market-driven overbuilding of HFC areas through FTTP infrastructure in the sense of infrastructure competition.

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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