News :: Mobile internet increasingly available, but EU still missing out on growth-creating potential of high speed broadband.
(21/12/2011) Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, welcomed figures just released which show a solid increase in the availability of both mobile internet and basic quality fixed broadband lines. At the same time the Commissioner warned that Europe risked missing out on badly needed economic growth if it does not step up a gear and increase the capacity of its broadband networks. Studies show that a 10 percentage point increase in broadband take-up boosts annual GDP growth by 1 to 1.5%.
Broadband is getting faster in Europe, but very high speed connections are not yet widely available. Although 42.2 % of fixed broadband lines were at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) in July 2011 (up from 29.2% a year ago), only 6.5 % were at least as fast as 30 Mbps and less than 1% at least 100 Mbps. The EU is not yet delivering on the 2020 high-speed targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
Fixed broadband growing, but slowing: there were 27.2 fixed broadband lines per 100 citizens in July 2011, but take-up slowed, and grew by only 5.8 % in the last twelve months. Highest take-up was in the Netherlands (39.3 %), Denmark (38.5 %), France (33.9 %) and Germany (32.7 %), with Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia and Latvia still below 20%. At the end of 2011 one third of households in the EU did not have a broadband subscription (according to Eurostat's latest figures). .
Mobile broadband, fastest growing: up by 25.4 %, mobile broadband subscriptions (dedicated devices, USB keys and modems), are the fastest growing element of the broadband market. Including smart phone users, mobile broadband take-up reached 34.6 % in July 2011, up from 22.3 % twelve months earlier.
EU lagging behind competitors on ultra-fast internet: in the EU only 6.5 % of fixed broadband connections offer at least 30 Mbps, and 0.9 % at least 100 Mbps. These shares are doubled in the US, and in Korea and Japan all connections are already faster than 30 Mbps.
Best prices? Consumers in France and Sweden are among those who could benefit from the best deals for very high speed broadband, in terms of advertised maximum speeds in bundled packages. Broadband prices were on average cheapest in Latvia, Lithuania and Romania for most broadband connection speeds.
As part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Commission has set ambitious targets to make "every European digital" via a high-speed internet connection: 100 % coverage of broadband access technologies at minimum 30 Mbps, and 50 % of European households subscribing to at least 100 Mbps in 2020.
Statistics on broadband take up and speeds come from a report drawn up by the Communications Committee (COCOM) which was established as part of the 1998 telecoms regulatory package and is made up of senior officials from the Member State authorities responsible for telecoms. Data in the report has been provided by National Telecoms Regulators in each EU Member State on the basis of information from operators.
The Commission has also published a report looking at broadband offers. As for fixed broadband offerings, most broadband products (82%) are unmetered, i.e. there are no volume or time limits. Fixed broadband access is increasingly offered as part of a bundled package combining internet, television and telephone services. Bundles tend to come with a higher speed connection than stand alone broadband offers.
This broadband price report is accompanied by a tool which enables a comparison of the total monthly cost of all the offers included in the database.
In addition, graphs from data in both reports can be produced and performance comparisons across countries can be made, using the Digital Agenda Scoreboard.
The Commission is making these data sets publically available as part of its open data strategy (see IP/11/1524)