Leaders and Laggards in EU broadband named

Publictechnology writes that the gap between the best and the worst Broadband equiped European countries is growing. The report highlights the fact that the lack of competition and shortfalls in regulations are the two factors which may explain why broadband growth is not even within the European Union.

According to data published by the Commission yesterday, the gap between the strongest (Denmark 37.2%) and weakest broadband performers (Bulgaria 5.7%) is widening slightly, with now more than a 30 percentage point difference.

The main reasons for this are the lack of significant alternative infrastructures in some Member States or the need for a more consistent and speedy application of existing remedies.

Effective competition on the broadband markets in order to achieve "broadband for all" is therefore a key priority of the reform of the EU Telecom Rules that the Commission will propose next month.

Broadband growth has continued in the last year throughout the EU, as businesses and citizens continue to benefit from the digital revolution.

Average penetration (number of subscribers per population) has grown from 14.9% to 18.2%, despite the relatively modest penetration rates in some Member States.

In the best performing countries – Denmark (37.2%) and The Netherlands (33.1%) – roughly one third or more of the population has broadband, with a substantial proportion using an infrastructure other than the incumbents.

On 1 July 2007 there were over 90 million fixed broadband lines in the 27 EU Member States of which some 20 million lines, excluding Bulgaria and Romania, have been added since July 2006, an increase of 28.7%.

Proportionally growth was highest in Denmark (7.7 lines per 100 inhabitants), Luxembourg (7.1 per 100) and Ireland (6.7 per 100).

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) remains the EU's main broadband technology, with some 72.5 million lines. However, DSL growth has slowed by 6.1% compared to July 2006, while alternative technologies such as cable, fibre to the home, wireless local loops, are more widely used, totalling some 17.7 million lines.

There has been intense competition in DSL subscriptions, demonstrated by a high growth of unbundled local loop products: 55.4% of all alternative operators' DSL lines (17.6 million lines) are either fully or partially unbundled, compared to 45.9% in July 2006.

Resale (8.2 million lines) remains an important type of wholesale access, in particular in the UK (where the national regulator has imposed functional separation, thereby ensuring that resale takes place under conditions of non-discrimination) and Germany (where resellers continue to be strongly dependent on the conditions set by the incumbent).

The market share of the alternative operators in Europe has continued to grow and has reached 53.5% in July this year.

However, the market share of new market entrants is only at 44.3% if simple resale of incumbents' DSL lines is excluded.

Alternative operators also increasingly invest in their own networks compared to services based on the incumbents' infrastructure.