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2012 Digital Agenda Scoreboard Finds UK Trails EU for Superfast Broadband

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 (8:41 am) - Score 1,670

The European Commission (EC) has released its annual 2012 Digital Agenda Scoreboard, which assesses the progress towards Europe’s broadband delivery targets. It found that just 5.5% of UK lines have adopted a superfast broadband ISP service that can deliver download speeds of 30Mbps+ (EU average 8.5%).

Europe’s Digital Agenda seeks to bring “basic broadband” to all Europeans by 2013 and to ensure that, by 2020, everybody has access to faster 30Mbps+ service speeds (with 50% or more using a 100Mbps product). However, while 95% of Europeans now allegedly have access to a fixed broadband connection (100% in the UK, if you can believe that), the vast majority of Europe is still a long way from mass market adoption of superfast services.


Apparently almost half (48 %) of all fixed broadband connections within the EU provide speeds of 10Mbps+, while the share of all fixed lines delivering speeds of 30Mbps+ has risen from 5.1 % to nearly 8.5 % in a year. Sadly superfast connections of at or above 100Mbps remain almost nonexistant but have nearly doubled from 0.8% to 1.3%.

As for the UK specifically, the January 2012 penetration rate of fixed broadband has grown by just 0.1% over the past year to reach 31.7% of the population (EU average 27.7%). Some 73.1% of fixed lines provide speeds of 10Mbps+, 5.5% of lines provide speeds of 30Mbps+ and just 0.1% can deliver speeds equal to or above 100Mbps.

The EC’s Vice President, Neelie Kroes, said:

Europeans are hungry for digital technologies and more digital choices, but governments and industry are not keeping up with them. This attachment to 20th century policy mindsets and business models is hurting Europe’s economy. It’s a terrible shame. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by under-investing. Europe will be flattened by its global competitors if we continue to be complacent.”

Elsewhere Mobile broadband penetration within the UK is 63.9%, which has grown by 27.5% this past year and is 20.8% above the EU average. Some 81% of the UK population were also found to use the internet regularly (e.g. at least once a week).

The good news is that service speeds and uptake are clearly improving, largely due to the growing availability of new services. Virgin Media’s superfast network can already reach around half of the country (population), while BT should cover 66% by 2014 and might stretch this up to 90% by 2016/17; but only if they win the lion’s share of public funding.

Overall just 34 out of the Digital Agenda’s 101 proposed actions have been completed, while 52 are said to be “on track” and 15 are “delayed or at risk of delay“.

Europe’s 2012 Digital Agenda Scoreboard Report

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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.
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15 Responses
  1. Somerset says:

    So only 5.5% are buying even though 50% are able to. What does this tell us?

    1. Ghasted Flabber says:

      …That for our *current* needs 8 – 15Mb/s of urban ADSL2+ is sufficient for the majority of people, and that efforts would be better spent rolling out super-fast network to those out at the fringes seeing sub 4Mb/s. I guarantee greater uptake rate then.

      Of course rolling out super-fast isn’t a short term plan. In 5 years time most people will have dropped ADSL2+ in favour of something faster.

    2. Bob says:

      BT’s Rolout has always been flawed. They insist on roling out first to town & city centre areas which tend to have short lines so can get good ADSL speeds monst of these areas will also have cable. BT then leave the fringe area of towns where in general the lines are long and the areas are either not cabled or only partialy cabled, The outer areas also tend to be areas with a higher disposable income

    3. Deduction says:

      Maybe nobody wants BTs FTTC complete with multiple el-cheapo supplied boxes, install fees, throttles and slow down issues. 😀

  2. thebizarch says:

    Perhaps useful to qualify the Virgin Media coverage as “population coverage” – it certainly is geographical and I don’t believe that geographical coverage has increased significantly in the last 5 years.

    I’m 110m from a Virgin 50Mbps cable, and have no hope of Virgin extending to me, despite their fibre running down the main street in my village. Apparently, it’s just not economically viable for them to grow the network by digging. I agree. so the answer is something else …

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Yes you’re right, I’ll add “(population)” in there.

    2. Bob says:

      If Virgin were able to access the BT ducts that would probably offer a low cost solution as they could use the BT ducts for the last mile and linkinto to the VM Cabinet

      VM did suggest a year or two back that they would start infilling areas, it has not though in general happened

  3. New_Londoner says:

    A classic example of measuring the wrong thing. Surely the focus of the EU should be on availability and to some extent on price? Whether people then decide to buy it for their home or business is really a matter for them and not the EU. You can hardly legislate to make us buy something whether we want it or not!

    IIRC Its worth bearing in mind that the EU budget for the next few years has not yet been signed off, so there is no funding behind this initiative, its simply an aspiration which may or may not happen. The EU is currently no more than an interested by-stander.

    1. Bob says:

      I dont see that price is a serious issue in the UK. HS Broadband is avilable at a very competative price, There will always be some people who will want it even cheaper but I think the currentb price is at about the right level. They have to get a reasonable price on it to be able toinvest in the rollout

  4. SlowSomerset says:

    The trouble is most people living in rural areas or villages don’t get the chance of superfast broadband not even ADSL2+ in my village yet and seems like there is still nothing happening on the BDUK front still.

  5. SlowSomerset says:

    Oh and as for being the best in Europe by 2015 what a laugh it just won’t happen.

    1. Deduction says:

      That was never gonna happen nobody even in the industry except the odd BT idiot believed it either.

  6. Bob says:

    BT have continualy been rolling out legacy technology. I don’t particularly blame BT. OFCOM have allowed BT to have an effective monopoly outside of the cabled areas. If you have no competition you invest the minimum you can as you have captive customers who canot really go anywhere else. Much of what is claimed to be competition is just reselling the BT product so it the business still pretty much goes to BT

    What is needed is at least one UK wide wholsale competitor but their is no sign of OFCOM wanting to do that

    1. New_Londoner says:

      Quote: What is needed is at least one UK wide wholsale competitor but their is no sign of OFCOM wanting to do that”

      Or more importantly, there is no sign of any investor being remotely interested in providing that. Like it or not, only one company is investing at any scale in UK network at the moment, and that is BT. Whether or not you think that is desirable, do you wring your hands or embrace the reality and look at ways to deliver as much benefit from what is happening around you?

      History is littered with (failed) political initiatives focusing on the former, why not take a more positive tack and make the most of the reality? Who else is spending £2.5bn on UK broadband just now, offering around £1bn more if the govt matches it? I don’t see an orderly queue forming of investors with cheque books in their hands.

    2. Deduction says:

      Completely agree with you Bob. Easy for others to roll out product when they have the backing of millions of tax payer cash.

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