EU must work harder to hit broadband targets

European governments are in danger of missing their targets for fast broadband penetration, despite the fact that the number of 10Mbps connections has almost doubled in the last year, says an EU report.

In July this year, 29 percent of broadband lines ran at 10Mbps, compared with only 15 percent a year earlier. More than a quarter of EU citizens now have a broadband connection, and mobile broadband has grown at an astonishing 45 percent over the last year.

But there’ss still a long way to go, say officials, before the EU hits its targets of giving every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra fast broadband by 2020.

“Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe’s prosperity and well-being. Take up and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more to reach our very fast broadband targets,” said

Neelie Kroes, Commission vice-president for the digital agenda.

“In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband, for which demand is growing very fast.”

As things stand, only five percent of connections in the EU have an average speed of over 30Mbps, with a measly 0.5 percent having a 100Mbps link. Europe is way behind countries such as South Korea and Japan.

Currently, only The Netherlands and Denmark are in this league, with nearly 40 lines per 100 citizens, reaching about 80 percent of households. In some member states, such as Finland and Sweden, fixed broadband take-up rates are actually falling, probably because they’re being replaced with mobile broadband.

The report is available here.