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Only 5.5% of Brits can access high-speed Internet

A mere 5.5 per cent of Brits can access broadband Internet at the high-speed levels of 30Mb/s - 100Mb/s, according to a new report from the European Commission's Digital Agenda Scoreboard. And only 0.1 per cent of the UK can access speeds higher than 100Mb/s, which are defined as super-fast.

BT and Virgin Media both offer super-fast broadband, but adoption rates remain significantly low, with only 0.02 per cent of Brits receiving it, below the EU average of 0.4 per cent. Both companies' rollout of 100Mb/s plus broadband has been plagued by such issues as limited geographic availability, high fees and unpopular traffic management policies (i.e. throttling).

Still, more than 30 per cent of Brits have broadband, a few percentage points over the EU average of 27 per cent. And nearly three-fourths of those UK fixed broadband lines deliver speeds of 10Mb/s and higher.

Mobile broadband penetration, which is expected to balloon over the next few years, has reached nearly two-thirds of the population, up almost 30 per cent from the same time last year. That figure is some 20 per cent higher than the EU average mobile broadband penetration level.

Overall, four-fifths of the UK's population regularly uses the Internet, and the government announced last year that it aims for all UK households to have access to a minimum speed of 2MB/s by 2015.

The EC's Digital Agenda hopes to bring broadband Internet to all EU residents by 2013, and high-speed broadband by 2020.

"Europeans are hungry for digital technologies and more digital choices, but governments and industry are not keeping up with them. This attachment to 20th century policy mindsets and business models is hurting Europe's economy," said EC vice president Neelie Kroes in a statement. It's a terrible shame. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by under-investing. Europe will be flattened by its global competitors if we continue to be complacent."