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EU and UK Next Gen Broadband Uptake Improves But 100Mbps Still Rare

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 (3:25 pm) - Score 1,498
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A new report into the state of Internet connectivity around Europe (price and speed) has today revealed that nearly one in five EU fixed broadband subscriptions went to a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service but ultrafast connections (100Mbps+) are still rare, with penetration (subscriptions as a % of population) standing at just 1.2% (0.4% in the UK).

In fact the European Commission has actually published several new studies today, which represents a fairly significant shotgun blast of data collected from different sources like SamKnows and Point Topic. Needless to say that attempting to assimilate all of them at the same time could be a little painful and so we’ve done a simplified summary of the most interesting bits below.

The EU/UK Broadband Studies

* Broadband access in the EU (subscriptions and technology)

* e-Communications Household Survey

* SamKnows study of Internet speeds

Take note that the first report (broadband access in the EU) has a tendency to mangle recent figures from July 2013 with some confusing explanations and a lack of up-to-date coverage data, which sometimes makes it difficult to be confident of what their results are saying.

The report(s) should also be taken in the context of Europe’s Digital Agenda strategy, which aims for everybody in the EU to have access to a 30Mbps+ (Megabits per second) capable broadband service (with 50% subscribed to a 100Mbps+ connection) by 2020.

Broadband access in the EU

Overall broadband subscriptions are getting faster and there were 5.4 subscriptions (6.9 in the UK) of at least 30Mbps per 100 people (up from 3.4 a year ago), although sadly this falls to just 1.2 for “ultrafast” speeds of 100Mbps+ (0.4 in the UK). As you’d expect the countries with more Next Generation Access (NGA) coverage/availability tend to have higher take-up.

eu_july2013_30mbps_penetration

eu july2013 100mbps penetration

Cable (Docsis 3.0), which is used by Virgin Media in the UK, is also the most widely used Next Generation Access (NGA) technology in the EU with more than 50% of NGA subscriptions and more than 90% of European cable networks now support it.

The report claims that “much weaker progress can be observed regarding VDSL” (aka – FTTC from BT). Although VDSL subscriptions increased by 86% in the last twelve months, they still only represent 5% of all xDSL connections (VDSL + ADSL etc.).

It is also to be noted that VDSL availability (24.9% of homes) falls well below that of cable NGA (39.4%), although in the UK VDSL/FTTC coverage is now superior to cable and covers around two-thirds of the country but FTTC uptake is slower here because cable achieved strong NGA uptake simply by upgrading their existing platform for all customers.

eu_july2013_nga_subscriptions

In terms of speed, some 64% of fixed line broadband subscriptions now connect at 10Mbps or more (up from 59% in January 2013) but the vast majority of connections (82%) still deliver sub-30Mbps performance and it’s a similar story in the UK.

eu july2013 broadband speeds

Real-World study of Internet speeds

Speaking of speed, Samknows has also gathered together data from its real-world performance testing (uses custom routers in 10,000 EU homes to monitor Internet connections) across Europe and revealed that the average advertised download speed across all countries was 38.50Mbps during peak hours, compared to 30.37Mbps of actual speed (up by an extra 10Mbps+ since March 2012).

As you’d expect, some broadband technologies are better and more reliable at delivering on the advertised speed than others (e.g. slower copper line ADSL services vs cable lines). For example, xDSL services delivered 63.8% of the advertised speed but fibre optic based (FTTx – includes VDSL/FTTC) lines scored 82.7% and cable managed 89.5%. So how does the United Kingdom do in all this?

eu_july2013_real_broadband_speeds

We strongly suggest reading the full report for all the details because the above article represents just a tiny fraction of what they contain. Broadly there’s a lot of progress but clearly there’s also still a long way to go, especially in terms of NGA uptake and ultrafast 100Mbps+ connectivity.

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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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