Broadband News

250 million (51%) of EU residents use the Internet regularly

A mid-term review of the European Commission's i2010 policy framework was released on Friday and introduces some interesting broadband/Internet usage statistics across Europe.

DSL is still the leading technology in broadband Internet access accounting for 80% of connections, although as of January 2008 this rate is declining with other technologies increasing their market share. The decline is partly due to new EU members having a larger proportion of cable based networks, and the deployments of new technologies such as FTTH (fibre to the home). The EU (EU25) average for coverage of DSL networks in December 2006 was 89% of the population. The variance was quite wide with Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg coming in with 100% coverage, even in rural areas, whilst Greece had just over 18%. The next worst was Slovakia with about 65% average coverage of the population, but only 30% in rural areas.

LLU (local loop unbundling) has also grown by large amounts- in 2002 incumbent operators controlled 87% of DSL lines, however this has declined with competition to 56% as of January 2008. LLU accounted for 12.8% of active PSTN (public switched telephone network) phone lines in the EU. The UK held roughly 4.3 million unbundled lines in March 2008.

Broadband appears to be a major factor in Internet usage. 51% of individuals in the EU regularly use the Internet, compared with 10% in countries with lower broadband penetration. Those households with lower broadband penetration rates do still have a high percentage of Internet connections per household.

The average EU speeds as of December 2006 were approximately 1Mbps. The breakdown showed 34% of subscribers had a speed of between 512Kbps and 1Mbps, whilst 33% had a speed between 1-2Mbps. Interestingly, only 5% of subscribers had a connection speed of over 8Mbps. This is averaged across all EU countries, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise as faster speeds as in the UK are not available everywhere. Also the data being nearly one and a half years old will mean that it is largely out of date- speeds would be expected to be higher now.

In terms of price, comparing a 1Mbps connection as of April 2007, the cheapest available was in Ireland, priced at €11 (£7.47) and the most expensive was in Cyprus at just over €70 (£47.53). The UK was 7th cheapest with prices at around €22 (£14.94). (Figures take into account purchasing power parities. Currency exchange performed at April 2007 rates).

In terms of content use, the UK is a clear winner netting €103 million in revenue for online music sales, with Germany and Italy following at €53 million and €35 million respectively. Online sales accounted for about 4% of total European music retail, with growth expected to continue. The VoD (video on demand) market fares a little differently with Nordic countries coming out as clear leaders; France and Germany having the only other significant markets in the rest of Europe. These figures don't take into account the BBC iPlayer which came to fruition in December 2007 when the streaming portion of the service was released.

The complete i2010 report (PDF at 44 pages) goes on to cover various other aspects including research and development into related technologies, as well as looking into specific sectors such as eGovernment and eHealth.


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