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Rise of Next Generation Internet Access Across Europe

The number of European households within a reach of high-speed broadband of at least 30 Mbps download speeds reached 62 percent of EU homes at the end of 2013, according to a new market study by IHS.

The study, sponsored by the European Commission (EC), also shows that 4G LTE wireless coverage across Europe recorded a dramatic 32 percent increase in 2013.

One of the main goals of the "Digital Agenda for Europe" is a universal high-speed (at least 30 Mbps download) broadband coverage across the EU by 2020.

"According to our research, challenges remain in passing this target, with rural Next Generation Access (NGA) coverage continuing to be especially problematic," said Alzbeta Fellenbaum, senior analyst at IHS.

Only 18.1 percent of EU rural homes had access to NGA broadband at the end of 2013. While this represents a considerable improvement by nearly six percentage points compared to 2012, a lot remains to be done if universal NGA coverage is to be achieved.

Key findings from the market study include:

  • In 2013, 20.5 million new households gained access to next generation broadband.
  • By the end of 2013, 62 percent of households across EU Member States had access to high-speed broadband (at least 30 Mbps download speed), against 53.7 percent in 2012.
  • NGA coverage growth was particularly supported by Very-High-Speed DSL (VDSL) deployments. In 2013, VDSL became the fastest growing fixed broadband technology for the second year in a row, growing six percentage points in the year to reach 31.2 percent of households.
  • LTE wireless coverage across Europe recorded a dramatic 32 percent increase in 2013.
  • Rural areas remain a challenge in terms of broadband coverage. Rural households continue to be under-serviced by fixed technologies (89.8 percent coverage at rural level, compared to 97.2 percent total EU coverage), and particularly by NGA technologies (18.1 percent coverage at rural level versus 62.0 percent of all EU households).

Among the other key findings from the study is a steady increase in the number of European households within a reach of high-speed NGA networks.

Out of the 31 study countries, 22 countries performed above the European average (62 percent) in regards to NGA availability, and only four countries reported NGA coverage below 50 percent (France, Croatia, Greece and Italy). Italy had the lowest coverage of NGA technologies, with a total availability of 20.8 percent of households.

Looking at the regional coverage maps, the UK is the most impressive with vast majority regions being 100 percent covered by fixed networks.

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