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EU Survey Finds Small Decline in UK Homes with Broadband Access

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 (2:23 pm) - Score 1,160

The European Commission (EC) has today published its annual E-Communications Household Survey of around 28,000 people across all 27 member states (1,308 were in the UK), which revealed that 61% of EU households now have broadband access and this rises to 70% in the UK (down by -1% Dec 2011).

Overall, the proportion of EU households with fixed telephone access has remained fairly stable (70% in March 2013) since December 2011 (-1% decline) and that compares with 81% in the United Kingdom (+1% rise) over the same period. Some 68% of EU households also have an Internet connection (+4%) and this rises to 74% in the UK.

The 68% of EU households with Internet access at home comprises 61% of households with broadband access, 4% with a slow dialup (narrowband) connection and the 3% of respondents who “don’t know” how they get online. In addition, 34% of EU citizens use the Internet to make phone calls at home (up from 27% in 2011).

european homes with broadband 2013

It’s unclear precisely why the UK is one of only a few countries to suffer a slight decline but rising mobile uptake might have something to do with it. Some 91% of EU respondents said they had a mobile phone (unchanged from 2011) and in the United Kingdom this has increased by +2% to total 92%. On top of that 49% of EU citizens who have a mobile phone also have a subscription that includes mobile broadband / internet access (up by +14% since 2011), which rises to 65% in the UK.

Why don’t some people have internet access?

The respondents who didn’t have internet access at home were also asked why they had not gone online and 65% of those said that it was because “no one in their household is interested in the Internet“.

Otherwise 19% pointed to the cost, 7% “did not know what the Internet was” and 6% said they had sufficient access outside of the home and thus saw no need for it). Finally 5% said they plan to go online in the next six months, 1% claimed they had no broadband coverage and the last 1% blamed “unsuitable content on the Internet” for their lack of connectivity.

Technology

Of all forms of broadband Internet connections, EU citizens were unsurprisingly most likely to use ADSL (xDSL) or a similar type of fixed line connection technology (58%). Respondents in Greece were most likely to use this method (87%) and respondents in Lithuania were least likely (16%). By comparison the UK scored 57%.

Otherwise 18% of EU citizens use a cable service like Virgin Media for broadband (16% in the UK), 9% made use of Mobile Broadband (6% in the UK), 6% went online with narrowband dialup or ISDN (3% in the UK), another 6% used fibre optic (e.g. FTTH) connectivity (10% in the UK), 3% used a satellite service (8% in the UK) and practically nobody made any use of the somewhat defunct Powerline Broadband technology.

However it’s not clear whether the xDSL stats also cover hybrid fibre (FTTC) style solutions and we can seem room for confusion, especially given how related services can often also be advertised as either “fibre optic” or “VDSL”.

In closing the survey also notes the proportion of respondents experiencing difficulties accessing online content and applications due to insufficient speed or downloading capacity. Respondents were most likely to have had these difficulties in France (54%), Romania (52%) and Bulgaria (51%), and least likely to have done so in Denmark (30%), Malta (27%) and Portugal (25%). In the UK some 54% said they’d experienced related problems.

The full survey, which is linked below, contains a lot of useful information but it’s important to remember that this is based on a limited sample size and doesn’t reflect actual availability of particular services (only consumer uptake).

E-Communications Household Survey (PDF – March 2013 Data)
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=2629

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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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