Broadband speeds in Europe continue to increase

European broadband connection speeds have increased by at least 10Mbps in the past year, and the number of subscribers on the continent continues to grow.

According to statistics commissioned by the European Commission, average broadband speeds have risen by 15% since July 2009, with broadband usage within the EU now amounting to 25.6 subscriptions per every 100 citizens. Annual mobile broadband growth, as a subset of these figures, is now 45%.

Despite these encouraging figures, the EC has conceded that the continent is still well behind the target of providing basic broadband to every European citizen by 2013, and ultra fast broadband by 2020, provisions outlined in its Digital Agenda for Europe.

“Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe’s prosperity and wellbeing,” said Neelie Kroes, Commission vice president for the Digital Agenda. “Take up and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more to reach our very fast broadband speeds. In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband.”

Statistics show that there are approximately 220 million households in the EU and, as of July 2010, 128 million were served by fixed broadband lines, with nine million new lines added since Q2 2009. The Netherlands and Denmark are the existing world leaders in broadband take up, with 40 lines to every 100 citizens. Nine countries, including the UK, Germany and France, have surpassed the levels of broadband take up in the US, according to OECD statistics.

An Ovum report on fixed mobile substitution indicates North America and western Europe will have the highest broadband penetration by 2015, but the lowest mobile-only penetration worldwide at 12% and 15% respectively.

“The prominence of broadband convergence in developed markets will be driven by the continued evolution of fixed-network technology,” said Charlie Davies, senior analyst of consumer practices at Ovum. “A growing demand for advanced and network intensive services, such as high definition video or gaming will also encourage users to see mobile broadband more as a complement to fixed networks than a substitute.”

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