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UK Broadband Strong in Latest EU 2014 Digital Agenda Scoreboard

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 (2:04 pm) - Score 651
fibre optic uk superfast broadband internet cables

The European Commission has today published the 2014 EU Broadband Scorecard, which reveals the United Kingdom’s progress toward Europe’s overall Digital Agenda goal of ensuring that 100% of homes have access to superfast broadband speeds of 30Mbps+ by 2020 (50% must also be taking 100Mbps+). The good news is we’re doing well but rural areas are still lagging.

The latest statistics are based on data gathered to the end of 2013 and they reveal that the number of people who use the Internet at least once per week has increased from 60% to 72% since 2010. Meanwhile 100% of Europeans now have access to broadband connectivity, although it should be noted that the EU includes Satellite as part of this coverage (the figure falls to 97% when you only include fixed line broadband).

Elsewhere 4G based Mobile Broadband availability increased to 59% (up from 26% a year ago) and fixed line superfast broadband (NGA) connections of at least 30Mbps are now available to 62% of the EU population (up from 54% a year ago and 29% in 2010), which rises to 82% in the United Kingdom (26% UK uptake of NGA). But only 18% of rural areas in the EU can get speeds of 30Mbps+.

eu_vs_united_kingdom_2014_broadband

It’s notable above that “ultra-fast” connections (those providing speeds of at least 100Mbps) accounted for just 1% of all subscriptions (5% in the EU), which is at least a small improvement from the 0.4% recorded some 6-7 months earlier.

However we suspect that the recent speed increases on Virgin Media’s cable network (max of 152Mbps) and the possibility of BT eventually raising their headline FTTC speeds from 80Mbps to 100Mbps+ (once vectoring has been deployed) might eventually start to change this. Meanwhile true fibre optic (FTTH/P/B) lines are also rising thanks to growing efforts by B4RN, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, CityFibre and others.

A much better overview of the latest results can be found in this 2014 EU Broadband Trends document and we’ve summarised some of the data below (sorry we couldn’t make the images bigger). According to the EC Vice-President, Neelie Kroes, “Most Europeans now live digital lives and they are hungry for more. We have solved the internet access problem.”

Certainly we agree that the issue of providing basic Internet access might nearly be solved, although the figure of 100% could be misleading vs real-world performance and problems with reliability of the connection itself. But these days people are increasingly in need of faster connections and so perhaps the word “solved” is still premature.

eu_broadband_scorecard_2014

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Mark Jackson
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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5 Responses
  1. Avatar Stephen

    The rural divide is only going to get bigger and bigger. None of the fixed line ISP’s want to put any money or urgency into coming up with a solution and the government are showing an equal lack of ambition too. Why can’t they do something similar to what Ofcom have done in the 4G rollout where they have placed sepcifications on certain sales of the frequency that the ISP’s must provide 98% indoor coverage & 99% outdoor.
    It seems everyones happy to keep taking the easy option & making the fast lines faster & faster & forget about the longer rural lines who actually are the ones in desperate need of a faster service. We need a digital Robin Hood to help us out here!!!

    • How is the digital divide getting bigger? Not sure if you think those of us in the cities are rocking 1Gb/s FTTP but I can assure you that’s not the case. Those in rural areas get the same FTTC I do.

      As far as making the fast lines faster goes, right. Clearly there’re no slow lines outside of rural areas and I was imagining this estate not meeting the 2Mb USO.

      Actually if you look at the stats here rather than screaming the usual stuff about digital divides, urban areas getting everything, rural areas left behind, etc, you’ll see the entire point of these stats is that our coverage of >30Mb broadband is well above EU average.

      I’ll repeat – our coverage of >30Mb is well above EU average.

      Where we lack is on the ultrafast >100Mb side. You know, those areas where you’re claiming fast lines are getting faster.

      Someone in the arse end of nowhere gets FTTP courtesy of B4RN or BT with subsidy from the taxpayer through BDUK, does that mean I can jump up and down as, despite my area having huge NGA demand we only got the same FTTC solution used in most rural areas?

      We are lacking at the high end, which means our urban dwellers are the ones who can look at their peers in Europe and feel somewhat besmirched. BT would have addressed some of this with their rollout but pulled back massively on the FTTP, deploying it only in isolated pockets where they felt like it or where taxpayers were subsidising.

      So, I hope BDUK get to you, you get an FTTC/P service as good or better than mind subsidised by the taxpayer, and then we can drop this whole digital divide nonsense. The numbers say the bigger divide is between our urban areas and those in Europe.

    • Avatar GNewton

      The digital divide, though increasing, is not the same as one between rural and urban. For example, our town of 10000 has no fibre broadband, and no normal business telecom services from BT. The telecom postcode lottery can hit you anywhere in the UK.

    • Avatar gerarda

      The figures quoted are as usual spun nonsense, starting with a claim of universal affordable access and then quoting a 30mb coverage higher than anything previously claimed for 24mb

  2. The digital divide between the best and worst of broadband does exist. It is a real thing.
    Whilst it is true that rural communities get ‘the same FTTC’ that others get, the difference is the line between the consumer and the cabinet.
    It is rare in urban areas to see distances between the cabinet and the subscriber reach 2Km – in rural areas it is common.
    At 2Km any cabinet upgrade is negated by the line length – rural subscribers can’t get physically close enough to the bandwidth.
    Then there is aluminium cable/repairs. These were much more common in areas where cables were damaged, and that (according to Openreach) is a much more common phenomenom in rural communities.
    The measure that BDUK uses is ‘premises passed’ the reality is (particularly in semi rural and rural areas) is that this leaves many premises passed by.

    The problem with this is ubiquity – at the point that everyone (near as can be) can choose to access fast broadband, universal services will be rolled out as there is a mass market.

    Until then – it is easy to kid ourselves that USO exists and is sufficient – particularly if we are getting FTTC at fast speeds.

    It doesn’t and many rural communities are languishing at much lower speeds.

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