Copper switch-off - A European benchmark

WIK Consult performed a benchmark study in 10 EU countries regarding the status of switching off the copper based telecommunication networks in favor of FTTH networks. Despite having some countries with extensive fiber network coverage, the EU in general is still lagging behind compared to countries like Australia, US or New Zealand, where the current fiber coverage is higher and the copper switch off targets are way more ambitious. Estonia and Sweden are the clear leaders in the EU with respectively 70% and 42% of copper exchanges switched off in 2018 respectively to FTTH and wireless.

More progress is seen in Europe on PSTN switch-off, which is a prerequisite for copper switch-off. This varies from 20% in Italy to 100% in Estonia and some countries not even having a deadline (ES, IT, SE).

The reasons for limited switch-off are divers. In some countries FTTH still needs to be widely deployed. In others, strict control on closing copper exchanges might delay switching or access regulation maintains copper based wholesale services. In others there is a lack of willingness of network operators to switch to FTTH (still focus on copper technologies like VDSL) and to put the effort in migrating its residential and especially its business customers with legacy equipment.

Yet, the benefits are clear. Parties who are switching mention lower fault rates (around 70%), increased customer satisfaction and lower churn. In addition, there are significant energy (40-60%) and space savings (85%) in exchanges of fiber compared to copper networks.

The results of the study are available for download.

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Ilsa Godlovitch
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