How many fibre-optic connections are there in Finland?

At the end of June 2016, there were fewer than 100,000 subscriptions using only optical fibre in Finland. However, this does not represent how much Finns are using fast broadband connections delivered via optical fibre as the number of fibre-optic based subscriptions may be even 10 times higher depending on the calculation.

The number of fibre-optic connections delivered via FTTH/O solutions grew by 15 per cent over the first half of 2016 reaching 94,000 subscriptions. These subscriptions may be called fibre-to-the-home subscriptions even though they include a limited amount of connections to offices. The majority of these subscriptions are fibre-optic connections delivered to detached, semi-detached and attached houses where the optical fibre cable is brought to the terminal box in the subscriber’s home.

Fast broadband may also be provided via optical fibre cables reaching the building. However, in such cases the connection quality depends on the quality of the building's internal network. At the end of June 2016, there were more than 550,000 fibre-to-the-building subscriptions in Finland. This number includes 395,000 Ethernet connections, representing a growth of 7% over six months, and almost 160,000 other connections based on FTTB/P solutions.

A major part of the cable TV network is also delivered close to the users via an optical fibre cable, and only the final tens or hundreds of metres are delivered via TV cable. In terms of cable network, the number of faster connections may be reflected by the number of connections using a so called Docsis 3 technique. This is not an accurate reflection of the extent of cable TV connections based on optical fibre, because the selected technique is largely affected by the modem used by the household.

All above-mentioned connections are predominantly, if not exclusively, based on optical fibre, and they are capable of providing data transfer speed of 100 Mbit/s or more. If the building's internal network is in order, it is possible to provide even faster connections. When estimating the number or share of fibre-optic connections of the 1.7 million fixed broadband connections in use, the results may vary depending on the scope of interpretation. Besides the purely fibre-optic based connections, Ethernet connections are usually included in fibre-optic connections in international statistics. Their combined share of broadband connections is 28 per cent. If all solutions with optical fibre reaching the boundary of a plot of land are counted in, the share rises to 37 per cent. Counting Docsis 3 connections in increases the share to more than 50 per cent.

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Figure 1. Share of fibre-optic based subscriptions of the total number of fixed broadband subscriptions.

Besides delivery methods, another even simpler way to estimate the numbers is to examine data transfer speeds of sold subscriptions. In such case, it should be noted that depending on customers’ needs and subscription prices, subscriber connection agreements may limit the speeds even in ultra-fast subscriptions. However, data transfer speeds of sold subscriptions give a good indication of the technical development, as over 100 Mbit/s connections in the fixed network require, in practice, that the optical fibre cable is brought close to the user.

At the end of June 2016, there were more than 450,000 at least 100 Mbit/s fixed broadband subscriptions in Finland. While the total number of subscriptions decreased slightly during the first half of the year, the number of these high-speed subscriptions grew by 7 per cent. The number of 100 Mbit/s subscriptions in the fixed network has more than doubled in three years.

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Figure 2. Trend in the number of fixed broadband subscriptions.

Key words: Internet, Broadband, Speed, Subscription, Articles

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