With the EU ambition that by 2020, 50% of households will have subscriptions of 100 Mbps or faster, and a speed of 30 Mbps be available to all EU citizens, setting in place methods to monitor and measure progress is important. To this end, Point Topic has been commissioned by the EU to map superfast broadband coverage, not on just a country by country basis, but down to the district level across all 27 EU countries, plus Norway and Iceland.
Point Topic will be contacting telecomms operators directly, bypassing any local regulator, and the intention is to provide data on a wide range of services, DSL, VDSL, FTTP/B, cable networks (DOCSIS and DOCSIS 3), WiMAX, HSPA, LTE and satellite services.
"We’re very pleased and proud to have the opportunity to do such important and pioneering work. We have been tracking the coverage and offerings of broadband operators around the world since 1998 and mapping UK broadband in detail since 2005. We are delighted to be able to use this experience to advance the cause of making broadband into a major utility, with reliable and high quality service available to everyone."Tim Johnson, Chief Analyst at Point Topic
From clicking through to the Point Topic micro-site for the project, the definition of district means down to the local authority area, as in Borough or County Council level or the equivalent in other EU countries.
The EU has already been tracking key targets for its 2020 Digital Agenda, which is ahead of where the UK is, since all we have at the moment is an indication of the scorecard that the UK will judge itself to be best in Europe by 2015. The more ambitious targets set by the EU provide a longer term aim, which with additional funding from the EU and individual government (e.g a further £300m from the UK Government for broadband is expected in 2015 to 2017) may be met.
Meeting all the EU 2020 targets in the UK, will be tough challenge, and should hopefully mean more fibre to the premises gets rolled out, particularly if the economics of doing so become more attractive, either through changes in the fibre tax system, or demonstration of strong demand in areas where the service is available. The headline grabbing figure of 50% of households having 100 Meg subscriptions by 2020, is very likely to happen if Virgin Media continues its speed upgrades of the past few years, and Openreach even just completes its planned FTTP deployments. The 30 Mbps for all target is the difficult one, as from 2015 onwards, it will not be the final third, but rather the final 10% that is the area of concern.