The first study, on broadband quality concludes that subscribers are getting 75% of the advertised download speed. The second study, on broadband prices, shows that broadband access has continued to become more affordable and the third report, on broadband coverage, confirms substantial deployments of high speed fixed as well as 4G (LTE) mobile infrastructures.
The first study covers all EU countries, Iceland and Norway and shows that on average, EU fixed broadband customers are only getting 75% of the download speed advertised, the same as they were getting in 2013. Despite continuous investment in broadband networks, which raised the average actual download speed significantly from 30 Mbps in 2013 to 38 Mbps in 2014, the difference between advertised and real speed remains constant.
This is why the EU is requesting operators to be more transparent and is giving users more rights through its new rules for a Telecoms Single Market. The text will be formally adopted by the European Parliament next Tuesday, after an agreement was reached in June (press release).
Today's study also shows that, overall, broadband delivered over cable and fibre-based networks was more reliable than other technologies and the actual download speeds in Europe remain higher than in the US.
The difference between advertised and delivered speed varied according to the broadband technology:
The average advertised download speed across all countries and technologies was 47.9 Mbps (38.50 Mbps a year ago) during peak hours, compared to 38.19 Mbps (30.37 Mbps a year ago) of actual speed.
The actual download speeds attained in Europe for any given technology were considerably higher than those measured in the USA by the same method, with this being particularly marked for cable networks:
However, consumers in the USA get on average 101% of advertised download speeds (92% with xDSL, 113% with FTTx and 102% with cable technology), i.e. US providers give their customers more realistic information about their download speeds than is generally the case in Europe.
Current telecoms rules ensure consumers are informed on what services they subscribe to and what they can do with those communications services. Consumer contracts must specify the minimum service quality levels, as well as on compensation and refunds if these levels are not met.
Under the recent agreement on the Telecoms Single Market package (press release), as of 30 April 2016, operators will need to be more transparent. They will have to inform customers of fixed internet access about the minimum, normally available, maximum and advertised internet speeds they can expect to get; in mobile networks, operators will have to inform of the estimated maximum and advertised speed. Operators will also have to explain the remedies consumers have if they do not get the speeds for which they have subscribed. Customers will be able to terminate their contract more easily if promised speeds are not delivered.
National regulators will make sure than operators meet these new requirements and deal with complaints by users.
The second study, on broadband retail prices, includes the following key findings:
The third study conducted for the Commission - on broadband coverage - found that over 216 million EU households (99.4%) had access to at least one fixed or a mobile broadband technology at the end of 2014 (excluding satellite). High speed mobile broadband (4G based on LTE) coverage went up from 59.1% in 2013 to 79.4% in 2014. Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies (capable of delivering at least 30Mbps) were available to 68.1%, up from 61.9% a year ago. The below map shows how NGA is deployed at regional level.
Speeds of broadband products are advertised as "up to XX Mbit/s". This speed is called "advertised", "nominal" or "headline" speed and it is what is seen in the adverts. But there may be significant differences between the advertised speed and the actual speed consumers receive. This is the third measurement of a study on broadband performance that covers all EU Member States as well as Norway & Iceland, using the same approach. The project has been run by broadband performance testing specialist @SamKnows, which has already conducted similar projects in the UK and the US. It is based on a methodology that uses hardware devices and provides the most accurate and independent results of Internet performance regardless of access technology and home installation.
This methodology has also been used by national regulators in the US, the UK, Brazil and Singapore. This study presents the results of measurements taken from 8 582 measurement devices in October 2014. These devices were spread across 30 countries. A total of 10 418 841 762 measurements were taken across 66 466 182 unique tests.
The study on broadband prices was conducted in the EU28 and some non-EU countries (European: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and non-European: Japan, Korea, Canada and three states of the USA: California, Colorado and New York). The study analysed the pricing information of about 200 internet service providers and 4,500 residential broadband offers grouped in 32 baskets.
The study on Broadband Coverage analysed thirty-one countries across Europe – the EU 28, plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, and the availability of nine broadband technologies (DSL, VDSL, cable modem, DOCSIS 3, FTTP, WiMAX, HSPA, LTE and satellite) across each market, at national and rural levels. These cover overall fixed & wireless broadband availability, fixed broadband availability and next-generation access (NGA) availability.
The data for prices refer to February 2015, while coverage data is as of end 2014.
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