Fibre guarantees access to high-speed broadband

New fibre deployments have improved the provision of high-speed broadband both in fixed and mobile networks. Operators’ backbone and area networks are based on optical fibre and the provision of the fastest possible broadband requires a subscriber line that is, in so far as possible, based on optical fibre as well. Mobile network base stations also require fibre for the provision of high-speed 4G connections. This article discusses the provision of high-speed fixed broadband connections and its development in Finland in 2016.

Around 1.74 million households in Finland have access to fixed broadband with download speed of 30 Mbps or more. This represents 66 per cent of all Finnish households. The number has increased by roughly 8 per cent compared to one year earlier, which means that fibre deployment has led to around 130,000 additional households gaining access to high-speed broadband in 2016.

Broadband connections of 30 Mbps or more can be provided in locations where fibre is laid all the way to the premises (fibre-to-the-home FTTH or fibre-to-the-building FTTB). The cable TV network and old copper connections may also be utilised, provided that there is a fibre connection laid nearby (fibre-to-the-cabinet FTTC). The closer the fibre is to the user, the higher the broadband speed. Getting a subscription may in some cases require some extra installation, e.g. a building cable or new equipment.

Around 1.36 million households in Finland have access to fixed broadband of 100 Mbps. This represents roughly 51 per cent of all Finnish households. Besides fibre to the building, the provision of 100 Mbps broadband requires a sufficiently high-quality internal network in the building. Almost all households connected to the cable TV network have also access to 100 Mbps broadband. At the end of 2016, 28 per cent of all fixed broadband subscriptions in use had a connection speed of 100 Mbps or more.

High-speed fibre and copper-based connections (FTTH, FTTB and FTTC) are available in around 1.34 million households, representing roughly 50 per cent of all Finnish households. Furthermore, the cable TV network also plays a significant role in the provision of high-speed broadband. High-speed broadband delivered over the cable TV network is available in around 960,000 households, representing roughly 36 per cent of all households. The networks are partially overlapping and one household may access broadband over several different technologies provided by several different operators.

Of all regions, households enjoy the best conditions in Uusimaa and Ostrobothnia where more than 75 per cent of households have access to fixed broadband of at least 30 Mbps (figure 1). In Ostrobothnia, the provision of 100 Mbps broadband is equally extensive. In Uusimaa, however, 100 Mbps broadband is only available in less than half of the households, which is much less than the coverage of 30 Mbps broadband. This is explained by the fact that there is more FTTH network in Ostrobothnia compared to Uusimaa. Uusimaa utilises the existing copper-based telephone network which does usually enable maximum speeds of more than 100 Mbps. Similar differences also appear in other regions.

Ultra fast 1 Gbps broadband is already mainstream

Around 440,000 households in Finland have access to fixed broadband subscription with download speed of 1 Gbps. This represents roughly 17 per cent of all Finnish households.

A download speed of 1 Gbps, that is 1,000 Mbps, requires an FTTH or FTTB broadband connection. Such fast connections also require an internal network of a building that meets sufficient technical requirements, which in practice means Ethernet generic cabling or fibre-optic cabling.

Broadband delivered over the cable TV network may also reach 1 Gbps. Updating equipment has led a large number of customers in residential areas with existing cable TV network gaining access to ultra fast broadband.

Ultra fast broadband serves a variety of purposes at home and several devices connected to the internet. The connection may be shared with multiple users in the building in a wireless local area network to allow the simultaneous use of several bandwidth-hungry services over one connection.

High-speed broadband is delivered via multiple technologies

If the fibre connection does not reach the user's home, the subscriber line may be completed with existing non-fibre networks. In a lot of areas with mainly detached houses, fixed broadband is only available via the traditional copper-based telephone network through DSL technology. The achieved speed level depends on the distance to the operator's equipment facility and the technical state of the copper network. If the distance is less than one kilometre, the speed level achieved through ADSL technology may be up to 24 Mbps. However, if the distance is much greater, e.g. 5 kilometres, the speed rarely exceeds 2 Mbps. This results from the fact that the signal attenuates much more when transmitted over copper cable than over fibre and it is also more vulnerable to external interference.

New broadband technologies, such as VDSL2 or G.Fast, enable the utilisation of the copper network in the provision of broadband while laying down fibre closer to homes and reducing the copper-based portion of the connection. These technologies increase the maximum speed to over 100 Mbps if the copper-based portion is sufficiently short, no more than a few hundred metres.

High-speed broadband connections containing optical fibre can be divided into the following categories:

  • FTTH: “fibre-to-the-home". This is an all-fibre connection. Fibre reaches the technical room in single-family houses or the apartment in blocks of flats.
  • FTTB: “fibre-to-the-building". The connection is mainly fibre-based. The fibre reaches the technical room of a block of flats or terraced house and from there each apartment is connected by Ethernet generic cabling or traditional copper-based telephone cabling.
  • FTTC (or FTTN): “fibre-to-the-cabinet". The connection partly contains fibre. Fibre reaches a campus distributor or a street cabinet serving multiple buildings and the connection is completed with traditional copper telephone cabling. In FTTC the portion of telephone cabling is often greater than in FTTB which means that fibre is further away from the user and the achieved speed is slower.

In addition, high-speed fixed broadband connections are delivered over the cable TV network. The most recent DOCSIS 3.x cable technologies support download speeds of over 1 Gbps. The backbone connections in cable TV network are also based on fibre providing sufficient speed and capacity for multiple users at the same time.Users in one building may access broadband over several different technologies provided by several different operators. In densely-populated urban areas, in particular, there may be multiple overlapping broadband networks. For example, in one block of flats, there may be one or more operators providing fibre broadband, another operator providing broadband over cable TV network and another one over older copper network. In areas outside population centres with mainly detached houses have usually no more than one fixed network which means less choice for users. However, operators can lease networks and provide their own broadband services in a network owned by another operator.

Further information

Tapio Oikarainen, Communications Market Specialist, tel. +358 295 390 538

Annexes

The maps below indicate the provision of fixed 30 Mbps and 100 Mbps broadband by region and municipality as a percentage of all Finnish households. To see all speed categories, visit FICORA’s MONITORi service. A list of the provision of 30 Mbps and 100 Mbps broadband by municipality is in the annex.

Figure 1. Provision of 30 Mbps broadband by region

Figure 2. Provision of 100 Mbps broadband by region

Figure 3. Provision of 30 Mbps by municipality

Figure 4. Provision of 100 Mbps by municipality

Supply of fast broadband by municipality 2016 [pdf, 53 KB]

Key words: Internet , Broadband , Cable , Mobile broadband , Networks , Articles , Statistics

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