The UK is falling behind the rest of Europe when it comes to rollout of super-fast broadband.
The latest report from the European Commission’s Digital Agenda Scoreboard shows that just 5.5 per cent of Brits can access broadband speeds between 30Mbps and 100Mbps (defined as ‘high-speed’) and just 0.1 per cent of the UK can get speeds above 100Mbps.
Additionally, only 0.02 per cent of the UK is taking super-fast 100Mbps plus broadband, below the EU average of 0.4 per cent.
The penetration of these lines in January 2012 was only 0.02 percent, below the EU average of 0.4 percent.
Lack of interest and takeup on 100Mbps broadband is hardly surprising; BT and Virgin Media’s 100Mbps services are relative newcomers in a market where potential subscribers may be locked into 12 or 18 month contracts and therefore unable to make the leap to the land of 100Mbps fibre broadband.
Availability of BT Infinity 100 is also limited at present to a small number of people living in areas where FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premises) has been enabled. Virgin Media’s cable network too covers just over 50 per cent of the UK and not all of its subscribers will be taking the top tier 100Mbps package.
EU: UK sucks for super-fast, better for basic broadband, mobile broadband and shopping
While the UK is lagging in the super-fast league, there’s some good news to be had at the other end of the spectrum.
“The United Kingdom has 73.1% of fixed lines providing speeds of 10 Mbps and above,” says the report. “The percentage of lines above 10Mbps in United Kingdom is 23.9 p.p. above the EU average rate of 48.4% of lines in this speed range.”
Mobile broadband coverage in the UK is also over 20 per cent higher than the EU average.
“Mobile broadband penetration is 63.9 per cent, up by 27.5 p.p. year-on-year and it is 20.8 p.p. above the EU average penetration level.”
The report also places the UK at the head of the pack for online commerce/e-commerce; over 70 per cent of Brits shop online, higher than anywhere else in the EU and above the average of 50 per cent.
The UK also is tied with Luxembourg for “highest number of online purchasers, acquiring online music or films in the last three years.” We’ve already heard that despite our slower broadband infrastructure, the UK’s ‘digital economy’ is pretty healthy – the biggest internet-based economy in the G20 – so this news is perhaps unsurprising.
European Commissions’ Digital Agenda: 50 of homes to have 100Mbps by 2020
Part of the Digital Agenda’s plans are to get 50 per cent of homes in the EU to have 100Mbps broadband by 2020.
In the UK, BT is busy rolling out a cable network which will serve two-thirds of the country with fibre lines by 2015. Theoretically, BT’s fibre network will be able to see everyone covered capable of getting speeds of up to 1Gbps.
The UK Government has its own plans for minimum coverage of 2Mbps for everyone by 2015.
“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,” Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. “We are shooting ourselves in the foot by under-investing. Europe will be flattened by its global competitors if we continue to be complacent.”