Also in this roundup: SpaceX launches broadband satellites; local ISPs scramble to get people connected; and AT&T revises false broadband-coverage data.
A report released this week by the FTTH Council Europe, a lobbyist for full-fiber technologies, has shed light on the state of connectivity across Europe. According to the data, compiled by IDATA, nearly half of total homes in Europe now have fiber coverage, with a 15% increase in total subscribers since 2012.
The report shows Belgium as the fastest-growing European fiber market, followed by Ireland, Switzerland, the UK and Germany. But overall, the progress is... not great. As Anne Morris writes over on Light Reading:
FTTH/B coverage still varies hugely across the EU, from 99% in tiny Andorra to 10% in Germany. Indeed, Germany is performing particularly poorly compared to Spain and France, with 85.6% and 57.1% respectively. Average coverage in the EU28 is still only 39.4%, compared to 49.9% across all 39 countries in the report. Those countries that have focused on copper-based technologies and/or DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades of cable networks (such as Germany and the UK) are lagging behind.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, some ISPs are working fast to improve connectivity for people in areas where it's lacking. In the UK this week, Gigaclear announced that, thanks to an expansion of its network in March, an additional 1,153 houses in Essex will have access to full-fiber broadband. According to a press release: "122,326km of trench was dug to install the fibre network cables to connect 537 addresses in Epping Forest District, 517 addresses in Braintree District and 99 addresses in Uttlesford District in March."
In the US, local broadband providers are trying to fill in the gap with Wi-Fi hotspots. That includes Franklin PUD Broadband, in Washington, which has opened up free hotspots for teachers and students in the towns of Pasco, Connell, Kahlotus and Mesa, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. Broadband providers in the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association (NECTA) have also made 10,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots available across the state of Vermont.
Elon Musk's SpaceX continued its own efforts to spread broadband around the world by launching an additional 60 satellites this week. That brings its Starlink broadband constellation to over 400. SpaceX has permission from the FCC to launch 12,000 in the coming years. But this week Musk said in a Tweet that beta testing of the new broadband service will begin in three to six months.
You can watch the seventh and most recent Starlink journey below, if you're so inclined (really, what else are you doing?):
At a time when many Americans are desperate for broadband connectivity, AT&T issued a disappointing "whoopsie" in a recent FCC filing to correct for a prior overstatement in its claimed coverage. According to Ars Technica, in an error that went unnoticed for over two years, AT&T falsely reported that it offers broadband in nearly 3,600 census blocks spread across 20 states, where it actually doesn't. The error was uncovered as the carrier revisited its filing documents in preparation for the FCC to make funding available for census blocks where there is no 25/3 Mbps home Internet service, as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). The auction is set to start in October, with $20.4 billion to be awarded over 10 years, including up to $16 billion in Phase I.