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High-speed internet lines to surge in Europe as virus boosts demand: study

·1 min read
Man looks at his iPhone in Rome

MILAN (Reuters) - The number of high speed fibre optic broadband lines in Europe is expected to more than double over the next six years from last year's levels as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates demand for faster internet services, a study showed on Thursday.

High speed fibre will pass 202 million houses in the European Union and Britain by 2026, up from 88.1 million in 2019, according to a joint report by consultancy firm IDATE and industry group FTTH Council Europe.

Houses passed is an industry term meaning the potential number of premises a service provider could connect to high-speed fibre optic broadband.

Germany, Britain and Italy are among countries expected to experience significant growth in the number of homes passed in 2026 compared to 2019, with Germany expected to see 730% growth, Britain 548% and Italy 218%.

According to the forecasts, the number of subscribers in the EU and Britain will increase to around 148 million in 2026 from 70.4 million in 2019.

"COVID-19 can partially explain this massive growth as it led to more data traffic and new broadband demands with people staying at home, which in turn increased the demand for fibre," the report said, noting that the epidemic had accelerated existing trends.

Among factors boosting fibre-to-the-home adoption across Europe, the report cites switch off plans for old-copper networks and a strong commitment by governments to fibre optic rollout plans.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)