Growth in so-called 'dark fibre' continues to be sustained in European metropolitan markets, but will be rolled out more quickly in Central and Eastern Europe, according to new research.
BroadGroup Consulting said that a contrast exists in the pace and extent of dark fibre growth across the region.
Dark fibre is fibre optic cable laid for telecoms networks which is not currently being used, either because of over-investment in capacity or deliberate planning for future network expansion.
The BroadGroup study reaffirms the continued expansion of dark fibre in Europe, which is expected to see growth averaging eight per cent per annum through to 2012.
The boom-and-bust approach to new network deployment has vanished, and has been replaced by an air of caution as speculative fibre build out is being kept to a minimum.
Where dark fibre does exist it is mainly focused on the access part of the network to customer sites in metropolitan markets.
Dark fibre is becoming a service of choice for an increasingly large number of companies, and is emerging as a marketplace of opportunity, rather than an arcane and inaccessible part of the network, according to BroadGroup.
New players see dark fibre as a service to sell to enterprises and other operators, rather than a strategic asset to retain.
In contrast, Central and Eastern Europe and its southern neighbours reveal encouraging signs of growth in deployment.
Demand drivers are present, new optical hardware and software is available (although apparently at a higher price than in western markets) and even duct space is present, owned largely by railways and utilities.
"The contrast between western and eastern markets reveals something of the divide," said Steve Wallage, managing director at BroadGroup.
"Equipment suppliers and operators should be leveraging the current opportunities which will provide strategic assets for the future.
"However regulators need to move more quickly to open markets to 'altnets' without which broadband connectivity will leave the significant customer base under served."
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