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Take-up of broadband services across the EU
Sunday 16 May 2004 11:33:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Ofcom's 'Review of the wholesale local access market' provides some interesting snap-shots of the state of broadband around the EU. The raw tables do not tell the full story, because the broadband market in many countries is moving rapidly, but it can give people some idea of the job ahead for the UK.

Provision of broadband services across EU Member States (Jan 2004)
Country LLU All DSL Non DSL All B'band DSL B'band Take-up LLU/B'band
'000 '000 '000 '000 Per capita %
Austria 26.7 279.5 400.0 618.5 8.4% 3.9%
Belgium 6.6 765.2 479.6 1244.7 12.1% 0.5%
Denmark 66.7 473.2 205.5 678.7 12.7% 9.8%
Finland 100.6 345.6 88.7 494.3 8.4% 23.2%
France 276.7 3262.8 393.9 3656.7 6.2% 7.6%
Germany 1350.0 4498.1 144.2 4667.5 5.6% 29.1%
Greece 0.7 8.6 1.4 10 0.1% 7.0%
Ireland 1.4 25.2 9.7 34.9 0.9% 4.0%
Italy 538.8 2158.5 580.9 2739.3 4.7% 19.7%
Luxembourg 1.2 10.9 1.6 12.4 2.8% 9.7%
Netherlands 208.1 920.2 930.0 1908.2 11.6% 11.2%
Portugal 1.8 185.2 316.0 500.4 4.9% 0.4%
Spain 16.0 1676.5 551.7 2228.2 5.5% 0.7%
Sweden 50.9 555.1 364.4 919.5 10.4% 5.5%
UK 8.2 1804.6 1838.5 3172.1 5.3% 0.3%

France is an interesting example of how a country can manage an about face, Ofcom takes note at the beginning of 2003, the level of unbundling in France was comparable with the UK. In 2004 though, France is now unbundling 40,000 to 50,000 lines per month. So LLU is far from dead, if it can be made to work, but only with the right combination of conditions created by investors, regulator, incumbent operator, LLU operators and consumer/business demand similar should be possible in the UK.

Whether the recent LLU shared line rental price cut is enough to encourage providers is not totally clear yet, but HomeChoice (Video Networks) has brought forward its expansion plans, to increase its footprint from 1.25 million households to between 2.5 and 3.0 million. The new LLU based HomeChoice Video-on-Demand and Internet access service has only just officially launched, and may very well provide the boost that the LLU process needs in the UK. Only time will tell.

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