Internet speed is emerging as a top issue for internet users according to the latest EU-wide survey of how Europeans use the internet.
Nearly half (45%) of Europeans households would upgrade their Internet subscription or switch supplier for a higher speed broadband, closing the gap with price as in the race for most important factor when choosing an internet plan.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes: "Consumers increasingly care about their internet being fast enough to watch videos, for example. And for those who run businesses from their home, speed is also a competitiveness issue. Consumers now focus on both speed and price when making their choices.”
The survey also found that over half (54%) of households limit their national and international mobile phone calls because of concerns about cost. Kroes says "This is the smartphone era, where high quality mobile services are an essential part of daily life. It’s not acceptable for half the population to be limiting their phone calls because of cost issues, and it’s not acceptable that the lack of a connected single market encourages those limitations.” However, the 2013 survey saw an 11% drop (from 60% to 49%) in the numbers concerned about the cost of calls to networks other than their own domestic networks. This is a clear sign that the Commission’s efforts to reduce mobile termination rates are having a positive effect for consumers.
Other highlights of this Eurobarometer survey include:
Speed matters more and more
Competition has effectively delivered affordable prices, while more attention will be needed to ensure demands for higher speeds are met
Around 40% have found it difficult to access online content and applications because of insufficient speed or download capacity.
Quality of service
20% said they sometimes found it difficult to access online content or had apps blocked on mobile phones (up 4 pp on December 2011). This was more likely to occur when trying to watch videos (42%), listen to music (22%), download video content for free (22%), watch live events (20%) or play online games (19%).
Sound quality was a concern. Only 38% agreed that sound quality is very good on their mobile phones compared with 49% for landline phones and 25% for Internet calls.
Open internet and net neutrality
Video blocks are the most annoying net neutrality / copyright issue
34% of adults use VOIP calling services (up from 27% in 2012)
44% of households have at least one mobile internet subscription (up from 30% in 2012)
45% of households purchase a bundle of communications services (eg a combination of television, broadband, phone, mobile services) from the same provider (45%)
40% (of the 45% of households) have considered changing their bundle provider, but 29% say it is it is not easy to compare the terms of bundle packages
The E-Communications Household Survey has been conducted annually since 2006 – the full report will be published in the coming weeks.
The survey aims to support policy development in the field of E-communications through the regular gathering of facts and trends about the attitude of households and individuals towards the provision of the main electronic communications services.
The fieldwork for this survey was completed in March 2013. 27,786 respondents from different representative social and demographic groups of the EU population were interviewed face-to-face at home. Because the fieldwork took place before the official date of Croatia's accession to the European Union on 1 July 2013, results are presented for the EU 27 and Croatia, and EU averages refer to EU 27 only.
Follow Neelie on Twitter