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FTTH Council Conference: Investors need a strong political signal: a reasonable increase in copper prices over time above inflation would clearly indicate a change of direction


17 Feb 2012



BRUSSELS – Speaking today at the closing plenary of the FTTH Council Europe Conference that gathers more than 3000 stakeholders in Munich, Luigi Gambardella, Chair of ETNO Executive Board of ETNO, shared the vision of leading European telecoms operators on how to accelerate the deployment of high speed broadband in line with the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

“One of the reasons why some telecoms operators in Europe may not be deploying even more fibre is that, despite the rapid growth in Internet traffic, operators’ revenues are declining, and have been the third year in a row. This appears to be in contrast with the revenue trend in other areas of the world. The European telecoms market is the only one in decline”, says Luigi Gambardella. 

“In fact, we believe that with the right approach, substantial progress towards high speed broadband for all could be made already by 2015 rather than by 2020, in several Member States”, he added.

Our strategy should be built upon the following pillars:

- First acknowledging that the situation varies from Member State to Member State. There will be no one-size-fits-all policy to achieve the 2020 objectives.

- Second the approach must be technology neutral. A mix of technologies and approaches to deploying NGA will be implemented. This will support a more rapid and comprehensive deployment of high speed broadband networks and will build on recent innovations in technology, including fibre to the cabinet with vectoring and advanced wireless (LTE).

- Third, avoid the dichotomy between copper and fibre. The question is not simply copper or fibre.  We should recognize that copper and fibre are likely to coexist during a sustained transition.

- Fourth the mentioned revenue decline must be reversed;

The European Commission should give a strong political signal here – a nudge in a new direction. Investors, and here we mean private equity investors, are looking for the signal that the focus of regulation has changed and that there is a willingness to commit to a regulatory approach which allows a reasonable risk-return on the capital investment required and which supports healthy balance sheets”, continued Gambardella.

Drive copper prices down and you will harm the investment case for fibre whilst undermining competing cable and wireless providers. On the contrary, a commitment to a reasonable increase in copper prices over time above inflation would clearly indicate a change of direction to investors. It would also send the right signal in terms of migration to fibre for customers and entrants alike. Once transition to fibre accelerates, reverting to a safety cap for copper wholesale prices may also be an option to address concerns that prices for legacy products may rise unduly as demand falls, providing a predictable price path for all”, he concluded.

For more information, please contact: Thierry Dieu, ETNO Director for Communications and Public Policy Tel: (32-2) 219 32 42 Fax:  (32-2) 219 64 12 E-mail:

ETNO’s 40 member companies and 10 observers from Europe and beyond represent a significant part of total ICT activity in Europe. They account for an aggregate annual turnover of more than €600 billion and employ over 1.6 million people. ETNO companies are the main drivers of broadband and are committed to its continual growth in Europe.