The European Commission says it has achieved the objective of delivering basic broadband coverage to all by 2013, and is making good progress on other targets outlined in the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE). However, roll out of high-speed broadband in rural areas still lags behind.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said, “Most Europeans now live digital lives and they are hungry for more. We have solved the internet access problem. But the digital skills gap persists. Unless we all do more, we will face a digitally illiterate underclass in Europe.”
Coverage of next-generation access (NGA) technologies has doubled since 2010, according to the data. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of EU households have access to broadband connections capable of delivering at least 30 Mbps download speeds. These so-called next generation access (NGA) technologies include VDSL, cable DOCSIS 3.0 and FTTP.
At the end of 2013, cable DOCSIS 3.0 had the largest NGA coverage at 41.2%, followed by VDSL (31.2%) and FTTP (14.5%). Over the past year, the NGA coverage increased by eight percentage points, equaling 20.5 million additional households covered by high-speed NGA broadband technologies compared to 2012.
In 2013, VDSL was the fastest growing NGA technology (up from 24.9% in 2012) with upgrades of cable networks to DOCSIS 3.0 nearly complete and FTTP coverage increasing by only two percentage points. The Commission says this clearly demonstrates the shift in broadband strategy in many member states, where companies are focusing on upgrading of existing copper networks rather than on the more costly deployment of fiber-optic cables all the way to consumers’ homes.
Malta, Belgium, and the Netherlands are close to full NGA coverage. NGA coverage continues to be high (over 90%) in Latvia and Lithuania due to continued FTTP deployment, whereas VDSL and cable DOCSIS 3.0 are behind the high NGA coverage in Malta, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Italy, Greece, and Croatia lag in NGA coverage with less than a third of households having access to high-speed broadband in each of the countries.