Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Map Shows Europe is Behind in Broadband Progress

A new map shows the shortcomings of broadband in Europe. The data recently released shows that there is wide variation in broadband availability across the continent, with large areas unserved by next generation broadband access services, and some areas lacking access to just average connection speeds.
Source: BCE 2012, Point Topic, TechPolicyDaily.com
The map shows that there are some countries in Europe that are standouts in broadband, offering superfast speeds and boasting high rates of adoption. Denmark is one example of an EU broadband leader. However, such success is certainly not the norm in Europe.
The European Commission updated its Digital Agenda Scoreboard this summer, and also found that the EU still has a lot of work to do to meet the Commission’s “Connected Continent” goals. The update showed that in some countries, only about half of the population has access to average connection speeds, and other countries suffer from low broadband adoption. In France, Ireland, Greece, Croatia and Italy, less than 25% of households had access to high-speed services of at least 30 Mbps; these speeds were only available to 53.8% of households at the end of 2012. In Italy, 30% of citizens do not use the Internet at all and lack digital literacy skills.
Especially compared with the U.S., these reports are troubling for Europe. At the end of last year, 95% of Americans had access to high speed broadband from multiple networks. For the small percentage of Americans that dwell in mountainous areas, satellite broadband is available, as it is to 99% of Americans. As one report stated, “This is the envy of Europe.”
As I have noted previously, the data shows that the U.S. leads Europe in broadband speeds, connectivity, and value, and EU leaders are now acknowledging that Europe lags behind the U.S. in broadband progress. EU Commissioner and Digital Agenda Leader Neelie Kroes has urged European policy makers to look to the U.S. as an example of success in the ICT sector.
This latest map provides another indication of – and a way to visually grasp – the harms resulting from overregulation in Europe. In order to remain a world leader in broadband, the U.S. must continue to support innovation and growth by removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to network development and build-out.