Ernst-Olav Ruhle, Matthias Ehrler, Natascha Freund and Martin Lundborg
The developments towards highly capable and high speed information and telecommunications infrastructures have received increasing attention over the last years. According to the figures provided by the various FTTH councils e.g. in Europe, North America and Asia, however, Europe is still lagging behind regarding the roll out of such infrastructures. Despite the fact that the European Union has taken massive initiatives for example by introducing the digital agenda for Europe, thereby aiming at the implementation of higher bandwidths for end-users, investment activity is still rather low and therefore, information and communication infrastructures as the basis for a sustainable digital society is not as far developed as on other continents. This paper elaborates the reasons for this development by describing general trends as well as by looking into specific case studies of four national markets, i.e. Germany, UK, Netherlands and Switzerland. The paper is organised as follows: In section 1 a general introduction to the development of NGA networks in Europe and the policies that have been adopted by the European Union to foster investment into NGA networks is given. Likewise, a focus is laid on reasons for still relying on copper networks to a great extent for technological as well as for commercial reasons. Sections 2 through 5 cover the country studies, thereby highlighting in each of the four countries the market situation regarding current generation access and next generation access, the analyses of the technologies implemented in the markets as well as the regulatory approach to dealing with the development towards next generation access. In section 6 we provide a comparison between these four countries and also highlight some specifics in comparison to other regions of the world. Section 7 contains our conclusions.