Discussion Papers

No: 459: Status quo of the switch-off of copper networks in the EU (March 2020)

Authors: Sebastian Tenbrock, Julian Knips, Christian Wernick

(full version only available in German)


In connection with the ongoing roll-out of fiber infrastructure and the development towards a gigabit world, the question arises as to the continued existence of the copper network and the migration of customers to the new networks.

In the context of this study, it is examined how far a possible copper switch-off has progressed in the member states of the EU, how it is carried out and which drivers and obstacles exist for a switch-off of the copper network. For this purpose, a survey was conducted with national regulatory authorities, incumbents and alternative network operators in the EU-28.

The respondents primarily see cost advantages as the main drivers. Not only does parallel provision of several networks entail higher maintenance and energy costs, a copper network also generally implies higher operation costs than a fiber network.

The obstacles vary greatly depending on the availability and use of FTTB/H technology. While countries with a low penetration point to the lack of demand, the barriers identified in the countries with high penetration are more practical and relate to the supply of alternative products and transition periods. These are also the areas most likely to require regulation.

In Germany, the switch-off of the copper network is not yet an acute issue due to the low FTTB/H coverage. Nevertheless, it would seem sensible to continue to monitor developments in the other European member states.

Discussion Paper is available for download.

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