[rethink-wireless] Although Europe is seeing stronger broadband growth than the US, it is still far from reaching its high speed access targets, and needs to take more decisive action on spectrum to help address the issue. The European Union has seen average connection speeds double in the year to July 2010, but still has a steep hill to climb to hit the targets set out in its Digital Agenda.
New research by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, found that 29% of citizens had access speeds of 10Mbps or as of July 2010, up from 15% in July 2009, but said the region faces a "long road" to reach its objective of basic broadband (5Mbps) for all by 2013, and high speed access by 2020. The definition of 'high speed' is to be increased to 30Mbps, but only 5% of lines currently exceed that speed. The EU has also set a target of at least half of European households subscribing to speeds above 100Mbps by 2020.
Neelie Kroes, commissioner for the Digital Agenda, called for an urgent EC radio spectrum proposal to accelerate roll-out of mobile broadband, especially where there is little wireline infrastructure. "Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe's prosperity," Kroes said. "Take-up and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more."
Broadband subscriptions grew from 23.9 per 100 citizens to 25.6 by July 2010, while mobile broadband connections grew 45% year-on-year. Total connections are 128m, over half the EU's 220m homes. The Netherlands and Denmark have the highest number of household connections, with 80% penetration, while seven other member states have higher take-up than the US level of 26.4 per 100 individuals (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and the UK).
EU falling short of broadband targets, says report