Comparing fibre optic networks: Spain versus the rest of Europe

There may not be an official prize for first place in this race, but better network connectivity always leads to a more competitive nation. Having good fibre optic infrastructure guarantees more economic, employment, innovation and research opportunities, alongside better communications and even continental interconnectivity.


Arguably the most reliable indicators of the “health” of a country’s fibre optic network are penetration rates for FTTH (fibre to the home) and domestic fibre optic. And Spain has reason to proud, as it leads the way on a European level.



A good fibre optic picture in Spain, even without coming out on top

Let’s not sugarcoat it, in Spain, more than two million people still don’t have access to fibre optic in their homes. Despite that, there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Compare that figure – 2.3 million households without fibre optic – with the numbers of those who do have access to this type of network connectivity, and the outlook improves dramatically: 13.5 million households were getting online using this technology in late 2022.


That figure comes from FTTH Council Europe in their report entitled FTTH Market Panorama in Europe. Spain is second in the European Union in terms of the number of families with fibre optic installed, i.e. 16 million households. While the country’s “to-do list” in terms of fibre network connectivity can’t just be casually dismissed, the report highlights that it’s the likes of Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy that need to work a little harder. Those three countries account for 55% of outstanding deployments, meaning Spain and its number of unestablished connections is doing 14 times better than Germany, more than seven times better than Italy and five times better than the United Kingdom.



Positive progress


Speaking in absolute terms and considering all households in every country of the EU, 62.2% have fibre optic coverage among all the European states analysed in the report mentioned above. Adding data for both the European Union and the United Kingdom together, average coverage stands at 55.1%, which is approximately 5 and 6.6 percentage points higher than last year respectively.


Spain ranks fourth in the whole of the EU, with a result of 87.4%, surpassed by much smaller economies, such as Latvia (91.5%), Portugal (90.9%) and Romania (88.9%). Much higher percentages than those found in Germany (23.6%), the United Kingdom (42%), Italy (55.5%) and France (76.7%).



Fibre optic in rural areas remains a challenge, but here Spain is also taking the lead

The availability and quality of fibre optic connectivity in rural spots – as well as in areas far from large urban centres – is still a problem that needs to be addressed by countries right across Europe. The opportunities for economic development in these areas greatly depend on the availability of network connectivity. According to the FTTH Council, just 41% of people living in Europe’s rural areas have access to good connectivity, with data available up to the end of September 2022.


Despite this, at 74%, Spain stands among the five European countries offering the best fibre optic coverage in these kinds of areas, along with Denmark (86%), Romania (83%), Lithuania (77%) and Portugal (70%). This is evidence of the hard work put in by both the Spanish government and various private companies in the telecommunications sector, as they establish strategic alliances to achieve full coverage by 2026.

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