Research conducted by IHS Markit and Point Topic was published today by the European Commission (EC). The Broadband Coverage in Europe 2016 study found that at the end of June 2016, more than three-quarters of EU homes have access to high-speed broadband services and 4G LTE coverage was nearly ubiquitous with 96 percent of EU households covered by 4G LTE networks.
This is the fourth edition of the study delivered by IHS Markit and Point Topic to the EC which provides data and analysis on availability of broadband services by various technologies in 31 countries across Europe (EU-28, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland).
The final report and accompanying data tables are available at the EC website.
- In the 12 months to the end of June 2016, 12.8 million new EU households gained access to high-speed broadband delivered via Next-Generation Access (NGA) networks
s:By mid-2016, high-speed broadband services (at least 30 Mbps download speeds) were available to 75.9 percent of EU households
- Very-high-speed-DSL (VDSL) continues to be the key driver of NGA coverage growth across the EU, increasing by 7.1 percentage points and reaching nearly a half (48.2 percent) of EU homes
- 4G-LTE networks expanded at a fast pace and covered 96 percent of EU households by the end of June 2016
- The gap between rural and national NGA coverage is closing, but remains significant with only 39.2 percent rural households across the EU having access to high-speed broadband services
“Availability of 4G-LTE services has become near-universal in many study countries,” said Alzbeta Fellenbaum, principal analyst at IHS Markit and manager of the project. “In 11 countries, LTE coverage reached 99 percent of households and overall, LTE coverage now reaches similar levels to those of 3G HSPA networks. This is a major improvement compared to just four years ago, when 4G LTE services were available to only 59.1 percent of EU homes.”
Copper upgrades continue to be key for high-speed broadband growth in Europe
Broadband network operators across Europe continue to focus their deployment strategies on upgrading existing copper DSL networks instead of investing in the typically more expensive deployments of fibre optic networks all the way to customers’ property.
“Since 2013, VDSL has been the fastest growing fixed broadband technology tracked by the study, and some countries have seen dramatic year-on-year growth in VDSL,” Fellenbaum said. “For instance, VDSL coverage in Italy more than doubled during the twelve-month period to mid-2016, as coverage increased by 33.6 percentage points. Iceland, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia also witnessed double-digit growth in VDSL coverage during the twelve-month period to mid-2016.”
Portugal breaks Baltic leadership in super-fast FTTP broadband availability for the first time
Availability of fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) services in Portugal improved by 10.7 percentage points during the twelve-month period to mid-2016 and as a consequence of this growth, Portugal with 86.1 percent of home passed by FTTP networks has now surpassed Latvia (85.2 percent) and Lithuania (81.4 percent) to rank first in terms of FTTP coverage among all study countries.
However, big differences remain among European countries in terms of FTTP availability and while FTTP access is on offer in all study countries, in some of the countries FTTP services are available only on a very limited basis.
As in previous years, Greece and Belgium reported the lowest levels of FTTP coverage, at 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent. In the UK, FTTP coverage was only slightly higher at 1.8 percent. “This reflects the preference of operators in these countries to prioritise their deployment strategies on upgrading existing VDSL networks, rather than investing in the typically more expensive FTTP technology,” Fellenbaum reiterated.
Gap in rural broadband coverage shrinking
Access to broadband services in rural areas remains a key priority for the EU. At the end of June 2016, 92.6 percent of rural households across the EU28 had access to at least one fixed broadband technology. However, only 39.2 percent (12.0 million rural households) could benefit from NGA broadband.
Nevertheless, rural NGA coverage increased by 9.5 percentage points by mid-2016 and in total, 2.9 million additional rural households gained access to next generation broadband services between the end of June 2015 and 2016.
“Moreover, we have seen that the gap between rural and national coverage, for both overall fixed and NGA technologies, is declining compared to previous editions of the study suggesting increasing investment in rural broadband,” Fellenbaum said.
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The State of Broadband 2017: Broadband Catalyzing Sustainable Development report has been released by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
According to the report, while 48% of the global population is now online, some 3.9 billion people still do not have Internet access, with the digital gap growing between developed and developing countries.
In addition, only 76% of the world’s population lives within access of a 3G signal, and only 43% of people within access of a 4G connection. The disparities in gender access are also becoming wider in developing countries.
“Broadband is crucial to connecting people to the resources needed to improve their livelihoods, and to the world achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
“The goals for education, gender equality and infrastructure include bold targets for information and communication technology. The State of Broadband 2017 report outlines how broadband is already contributing to this and makes valuable recommendations for how it can increase this contribution into the future.”
Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, Group CEO, Ooredoo, said:
“The report shines a crucial light on the ongoing global challenge to help people across the world access the life-changing benefits of internet access. At Ooredoo, we continue to invest in mobile technology, people and resources that enable our communities – in particular underserved women and youth – to enjoy the internet and use it as a means to improve their lives and achieve their full potential. As we deploy the power of digital technology to give people access to the services and support they need, we urge governments, operators and regulators to continue working closely together to address the deepening digital inequality in global connectivity.”
Issued annually, The State of Broadband report is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.
The report also examines global trends in broadband connectivity and technologies, reflects on policy and regulatory developments, as well as the applications of broadband for sustainable development. It also presents several policy recommendations.
Promoting investment in broadband connectivity from a broad range of sectors, the report notes, can help achieve the full potential of these technologies and bring the world closer to the goal of an inclusive digital society accessible by all.