Telecompaper survey finds fibre interest waning among Dutch consumers

Monday 12 September 2016 | 13:15 CET | Background

Fibre's reputation as the best broadband technology appears to be wearing off somewhat in the Netherlands, according to the latest research by the Telecompaper Consumer Panel. In 2015, 55 percent of Dutch consumers expected fibre to be the norm within 10 years. However, this year that percentage fell to 48 percent. At the same time, fewer consumers say they plan to subscribe to fibre services. 


In April 2015, 41 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: "I'm interested in fibre and I will definitely subscribe to it future." By April 2016, only a third (33%) agreed with the same, taking the amount of interest back to the same level as 2013-2014. 

The Telecompaper Consumer Panel has been researching since 2013 Dutch consumer feelings about broadband and which technology to use - DSL, cable or fibre. DSL appears to be making a return, while fibre is growing the fastest. In 2013 and 2014, 45 percent of respondents said they expect that within 10 years half the country will have fibre. This rose to 55 percent in 2015 but fell back to 48 percent in 2016. 

Consumers appear to be more critical of the benefits of fibre. Half (50%) said they would pay more for fibre only if the quality of the services are clearly better, a similar level to 2015 (53%) and up from 44 percent in previous years. 

The dip in interest may be due to investments in speed upgrades by other providers. Ziggo has raised speeds in the past year on its cable network, giving customers with 120 Mbps a free upgrade to 150 Mbps, and it also offers subscriptions with 200 or 300 Mbps. KPN is investing in its VDSL network as well in order to support speeds of 100 or 200 Mbps. 

Rural areas important for FttH

At the same time, the three options are not available to all consumers. The providers may compete on speed, but the fastest offers are not available in every area. Rural areas have much less choice, something reflected in the responses in the survey. Over four in ten consumers (42%) support the idea of subsidising fibre for rural areas, the same as in 2015 (43%). This is up from 33-34 percent in 2013 and 2014. 

In addition, almost three in ten consumers say they would like to have fibre, but it's not available in their area. This percentage is stable over the past year, while the support for government intervention is increasing. Almost one in five (17%) consumers said they were prepared to pay out to help bring fibre to the area. 

According to Telecompaper's FTTH database, fibre roll-outs are mainly being planned in outlying areas. In areas such as Friesland, Coevorden, Hof van Twente, Hardenberg, Land van Cuijk, Aalten and Oost-Gelre, municipalities, local businesses and resident associations are pulling together to make a business case for FTTH in less populated areas. 

Men more interested in fibre

The Consumer Panel notably shows that men have significantly more interest in fibre than women; they gave more often positive answers on all the questions about fibre. Forty-three percent of men are interested in fibre and plan to subscribe, compared to only 23 percent of women. Men were also less likely to support the claim that "fibre is nonsense, the current internet techniques are good enough". 

This research is based on the Telecompaper Consumer Panel. The survey was conducted in March 2013 (n=2,160), March 2014 (n=6,905), April 2015 (n=1,754) and April 2016 (n=1,748). Panel participants are aged 12-80, and results are stratified according to age, gender and education. For more information about research opportunities with the panel, please contact research@telecompaper.com.

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