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European Broadband Forecasts 2030: German gigabit deployments stall while Italy sails ahead

Updated: Feb 15

Latest broadband coverage forecasts by Expert Intelligence using newly available 2022 data show the changes in trajectory of fixed gigabit broadband rollout to 2030. In the context of the European Commission’s Digital Decade programme, we can see that progress continues to be heterogeneous and not all nations are on track to reach their goals.

  • Germany forecasts falls -10% to only 48.7% FTTP availability by 2030; France, UK and Poland also show reductions

  • Finland, Italy, Austria and Slovakia show biggest improvements while Italy overtakes Germany in VHCN projections

  • Greece, Germany and Finland occupy bottom spots for gigabit-capable coverage by end of the decade

The Overall Picture

Our most recent forecasts for FTTP and Gigabit-Capable (FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1, also known as VHCN) coverage are based on our own 2011-2022 time series, improved methodology and restatements/improvements in data - differences to previous forecasts are highlighted in red.

Overall VHCN (FTTP and DOCSIS 3.x) forecasts, which take into account all gigabit-capable networks, have changed significantly for some countries while remaining stable for others, with FTTP continuing to account for the vast majority of new network build and DOCSIS 3.x reflecting upgrades to existing cable infrastructure.

Italy Overtaking Germany by End of the Decade

While Germany has recently seen its gigabit-capable coverage grow quickly, the heavily cable-infrastructure invested country has soon reached the point where most of its cable infrastructure is upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1 (16% in 2019 vs 57% in 2022).

But as Germany’s overall cable network has actually shrunk over the last few years, this means overall DOCSIS 3.1 coverage cannot exceed more than roughly 62% and future growth must come from elsewhere. 

Meanwhile German FTTP growth has been a much more modest 3% per year since 2019, compared to 7% in Italy for the same period. This puts Italy on a path to overtake Germany by the end of the decade, should Italy continue following a similar trajectory to its southern neighbour Spain, where a decade of strong competition underpinned by a supportive regulatory environment and inflow of EU funds led to spectacular rates of infrastructure deployment.

Spain - Looking back on a Decade of Success

One of the great success stories of European broadband deployment over the last decade has been Spain. Starting off with very modest coverage in 2011, it has undergone widespread deployment of fibre infrastructure despite battling an economic crisis and high unemployment. Today, Spain has one of the largest and most heavily used fibre networks in the world, but challenges remain: rural coverage still comes in at about 20% below urban (76% vs 95% in 2023), and connecting the most difficult-to-reach households to reach the 100% Digital Decade goal is difficult due to terrain and economics. However, Spain is seeing substantial investment by low-Earth orbit satellite operators Hispasat and Sateliot to fill this gap, allowing it to meet a target of 100Mbps availability to 100% of its population ahead of 2025.

The UK: Strong Deployment but Attention Shifts to Consolidation

The UK is on track to just about reach full deployment of gigabit-capable networks by 2030, with FTTP expected to grow from 37% in 2022 to 84% in 2030, and DOCSIS 3.1 (later DOCSIS 4) plateauing at around 48% by 2024. This growth is due to a competitive environment and numerous 'AltNets' investing significant amounts in their own fibre infrastructure across the country, and government schemes supporting roll-out in harder-to-reach areas. Central subsidy programmes have started to make an impact too as the North of England starts to 'level up' and rural areas in the south start to benefit from subsidised coverage.

However, recent rises in the cost of living as well as fears of network overbuild have laid bare the unrealistic expectations of some investors, which has led to a shift in expectations towards consolidation which may affect the pace of deployment in the future.

2024 will be the year that the FTTP networks cover more premises than cable in the UK. Even VMO2 have jumped on the bandwagon with a joint venture, nexfibre, aiming to establish a footprint outside the cable network, who are deploying their own full fibre network at speed.


Forecasting Greece is particularly difficult: while many regions are starting to pick up growth, they do so from very low, single-digit numbers, making it hard to tell what trajectory they will be on in 2030. Due to a variety of geographic, economic and political factors the country remains near the low end on most European digital economy rankings, including gigabit-connectivity by 2030. New inputs and the restatement of historic data have helped but there is still a lot of uncertainty:

However, deployment in the last two years has disappointed, meaning corrections have mainly been downwards and country-wide 2030 coverage expected to reach 56% (down by 33.1%). Until growth picks up and stabilises, uncertainty over where the figures will stand by the end of the decade remain high.

Expert Intelligence is a broadband research company and subsidiary of Point Topic UK.


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