BBC News Online has published a news item, highlighting perhaps the next phase in the great digital divide. The problem of differences in speed of service across Europe. The Jupiter Research report shows a large disparity between the quality of service across Europe, and even within individual countries. Apparently more than a quarter of users have chosen slower than 512kbps products, or are on a pay per minute tariff. Then of course there are some Europeans that are seeing much higher speeds.
The UK has only recently seen the introduction of metered broadband packages, but they have been part of some countries broadband markets for a while, e.g. Germany. Also it is really only in the last 12 months, that UK providers have started using sub-512kbps packages in an attempt to lure price sensitive users onto the various broadband platforms. This means the UK is likely to have a lot less than a quarter of users in the 'slow' broadband category.
Interestingly the report attempts some predictions on the takeup of broadband across Europe, and predicts that by 2009, 59% of European households will be online, 63% of which will be broadband. In the UK we are destined to be the second largest market, Germany is likely to have 13.5 million households on broadband and the UK 10.2 million by 2009.
Why does it matter what speed of service people opt for? Well it is the old chicken and egg situation, content providers are not going to produce high quality streaming content at above 1Mbps if only 5-10% of the market has it. They will concentrate on the biggest market share, currently in the UK that is around the 0.5Mbps mark, but with all the promotion of sub 0.5Mbps services and metered tarriffs this may change.
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