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INTUG Challenges EU Claim that the UK Has Full Coverage of Basic Broadband

Friday, May 4th, 2012 (10:11 am) - Score 925

The International Telecoms User Group (INTUG), an association of business users of telecommunications services, has heavily criticised the European Commission (EC) after a new report claimed that the UK had “already achieved full coverage for basic broadband services” in time for their 2013 target (EU Digital Agenda).

Europe’s Digital Agenda strategy aims to bring “basic” broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and to ensure that everybody has access to superfast 30Mbps+ speeds (with 50% or more using a 100Mbps product) by 2020. Meanwhile the UK hopes to make superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP services available to 90% of the country by 2015, while the last 10% will have to make do with download speeds of at least 2Mbps.

EC – Implementaion of National Broadband Plans Staff Report

2.2.1. Basic Broadband

Eight Member States (Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) have already achieved full coverage for basic broadband services and a further 17 have set a corresponding quantitative target, or are about to do so. There is a range of definitions of ‘basic’ download speeds from 512Kbps to 4Mbps. In many cases the timing is more ambitious than the DAE deadline of 2013; however, not all plans envisage full basic coverage by that date. At this point, closing coverage gaps remains an issue predominantly for rural areas5. Annex 1 provides an overview of national targets.

On the basis of national broadband plans a lower bound can be estimated for the availability of basic broadband by 2013. Assuming that all Member States reach their basic broadband coverage targets and that those countries which do not have a quantitative basic broadband coverage target for 2013 remain at their 2010 coverage level, nearly 99 % of the EU population should benefit from basic broadband coverage by 2013. On the demand side, three countries (Austria, Belgium, and Romania) have defined penetration targets for basic broadband.

As most people know there are still plenty of locations around the UK, especially in the most rural parts of Wales and Scotland, where fixed line broadband connectivity simply doesn’t exist or remains too slow to be usable (“NotSpots“). In real terms this only accounts for a tiny minority but that can still translate into hundreds of thousands of people, or possibly even millions, depending upon which figures you choose to believe.

INTUG’s Letter to European Commissioner Neelie Kroes (Groupe Intellex):

Our UK Member, CMA, and the UK Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) met recently with OfCom and UK Government representatives at the UK Houses of Parliament to discuss broadband roll out. It was clear from the discussion that full coverage for basic broadband is still far from being achieved in the UK. This misrepresentation of a reality has been a consistent concern of users in the UK since BT’s often quoted claim of 99.6% coverage of broadband, which was similarly misleading.”

It’s crucial for Europe to gets its facts and figures right as presenting a misleading interpretation of the situation could risk the “Job Done” stamp being placed on the UK long before time and thus make it harder to secure additional funding for related broadband projects.

On the other hand some would argue that both the UK and EU already have 100% coverage, albeit only if you include quick-fix Satellite solutions. But so far the EC’s strategy has, perhaps correctly, focused on fixed line broadband and wireless/mobile (wifi, 4g/3g) solutions.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. SlowSomerset says:

    I for one dont get a constant 2Mbs in the evenings when I am at home, lucky If I get 1Mbs.

  2. Find me anywhere in the targets that says you will get a constant speed.

    The committed bit rate out to the internet never features in the EU or UK targets, usually a connection speed, or the ability to do a speed assuming contention is not an issue.

  3. wirelesspacman says:

    Also, I am not aware of anything in the EU “requirements” for basic broadband that states it cannot be met via a satellite solution.

    Certainly in the BDUK superfast farce (sorry procurement) there is nothing to prohibit satellites being used.

  4. DTMark says:

    I feel sure I remember seeing a report which said that about 84% of lines can deliver a 2Mbps or better service via ADSL.

    Given that 2Mbps is not “basic broadband”, it’s more akin to dial-up speeds, it’s a bit pointless to focus on.

    What would be a starting step would be to define “broadband” which can’t really be less than 6Meg down 1Meg up in this day and age rising to 10Meg down by 2015.

    Then, after we’ve spent all the BDUK money, then look at the percentage of the country who can’t get broadband.

    Or preferably, look before, and then target the money *before* we spend it.

  5. DTMark says:

    I got a constant speed with ADSL. Constantly in the region of 1.6Mbps throughput on a 3.6km long line with a sync of 2048 and a profile of 1750.

    I get a fairly constant speed with 3G – about 6Meg down 1.5Meg up.

    But that’s not really a solution when just a few others in the area using it would drop the speed to useless levels. I’m just lucky that they do not, as it would leave no broadband options at all at this location.

    Given that current plans will require urban users to use 4G/LTE to get superfast broadband speeds in some areas since it will not be met by a fixed line solution (whether the cabinet has fibre or not) I fear that technology is going to be taking a lot of the strain.

  6. christine says:

    We’re all still on dial up or satellites, but we’re in a rural area so at least we have nice views. We turn the sats off in the day time because otherwise the youngsters use up our daily allowance, and each gig is £15. One episode of a missed TV show a day costs £450 a month. Would rather look at the view.

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