FTTH Conference opens in Stockholm: Superfast broadband key to EU economic growth

Organised by the Fibre to the Home Council Europe, the FTTH Conference has kicked off in Stockholm, Sweden.

Opening the event, Sweden's minister for information technology and energy, Anna-Karin Hatt, highlighted the importance of high-speed broadband rollout in rural areas.

Noting that Sweden has a sparser population than the Sahara desert north of Stockholm, Hatt said that an ideal government strategy combined market forces with public funding.

"The government broadband strategy is quite bold - 90 per cent of households and business should have broadband of at least 100Mbps by 2020."

"The key strategy is a market driven approach [but] equally important in a sparsely populated and widespread country is the public funding we provide to build high-speed broadband in rural areas."

"In Sweden we have been able to develop some best practices that other countries can learn from. At the same time, Sweden needs to continue to learn from others," she commented.

Hatt added that access to high-speed connectivity like fibre broadband and 4G LTE was a clear driver for economic growth in Europe.

"Recent studies have shown that when broadband penetration rates increase by 10 per cent, GDP increases by 1 per cent. It's an issue of increasing growth and wealth in our societies. With high speeds, economic activity increases, meaning more business, new services [and] higher levels of employment," she explained.

Fibre-optic broadband rollout is a key public sector issue in the UK at the moment, with the UK government recently issuing a Terms of Reference document for its "Digital Communication Infrastructure Strategy."

Read more: FTTH Council Europe welcomes latest UK government broadband initiative

At present, the UK lags behind a number of other European countries in terms of FTTH penetration, with the government recently announcing an additional £10 million fund to complement the £1.2 billion BDUK investment.

Founded in 2004, the FTTH Council Europe is an industry organisation dedicated to promoting the availability of fibre-based, high-speed broadband.

Taking place 18-20 February, the FTTH Conference is the world's largest dedicated fibre-optic networks event, welcoming more than 3,000 attendees to Stockholm this year.