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Government urged to push broadband investment

Alex Scroxton

Broadband speeds across the EU are much faster than they were 12 months ago, say new statistics released by the European Commission, but member governments must do more to ensure their digital economies remain competitive, according to Brussels.

By July of this year, 29% of Eu broadband lines could support speed of at least 10Mbit/s, up from 15% in July 2009, said the Commission. New connections are also being added quicker and quicker, with 25.6 subscriptions for every 100 citizens, up from 23.9 in 2009.

The Commission said that the UK, along with eight other EU states, now had higher levels of broadband take-up than in the US, with the Netherlands and Belgium leading the pack.

But just 5% of lines could support speeds of over 30Mbit/s, considered essential for services such as HDTV or video-conferencing.

Under the EC's Digital Agenda 2020 targets,100% of lines should be able to support 30Mbit/s by 2020, with 100Mbit/s available to half of European premises.

"Take-up and speeds are improving, but we need to do more to reach our targets," admitted Digital Agenda commission vice president Neelie Kroes.

"In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband, for which demand is growing very fast," she added.

Reflecting the explosive growth in smartphone devices witnessed this year, mobile broadband take-up was growing even more rapidly, said the Commission, at the expense of fixed broadband in some advanced markets.

Across the 25 member states mobile broadband penetration stands at 6% on average (21% in Finland), up 45% since July 2009.


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