More than three quarters of homes across the 28 European Union nations (EU28) had access to high speed broadband services by the end of June 2017, according to new data released by the European Commission.
For the fist time, 4G LTE availability matched 3G HSPA networks, in terms of the number of households covered, said the IHS Markit and Point Topic study Broadband Coverage in Europe 2017.
LTE is increasingly being trialed to deliver IPTV and accessing mobile TV services, particularly live events, over the mobile network seems set to increase.
“VSDL was the fastest-growing fixed broadband technology for the sixth consecutive year, supported by the rapid rollout of VDSL networks in Italy and the Czech Republic. Both countries reported double-digit increases over the previous year,” said James Joyner, senior research analyst, IHS Markit.
“Fibre-to-the-home (FTTP) coverage increased at a faster rate than in the previous iteration of the study, aided by deployments in France and Spain. However, growth in DOCSIS 3.0 networks has slowed, with the most densely populated areas already reached.”
The study found that by the end of June 2017, 176 million EU households had access to broadband delivered by next-generation access networks such as VDSL, DOCSIS 3.0 and FTTP, equating to 9.9 million households more than a year earlier.
By mid-2017, high-speed fixed broadband services with at least 30Mbps download speeds were available to 79% of EU households.
At a national level, 80.1% of households had access to NGA broadband, compared to 46.9% of rural households. This difference was 3.5 percentage points lower than last year’s study, “but the difference remains sizeable,” the report highlighted.
VDSL remained the most widespread NGA technology in the EU28, passing 53.4% of homes. DOCSIS 3.0 networks covered 44.7% of EU28 households, with FTTP availability reaching 26.8% of homes by mid-2017.
Malta was the only country to record complete coverage for the NGA technology category, while Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iceland and Portugal recorded coverage levels above 95%. Greece was the lowest-ranked country in terms of the proportion of households covered by NGA networks. In Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Poland and France, NGA networks covered less than 75% of households, in the first half of 2017.
In terms of FTTP availability, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania and Spain led the EU28, where FTTP networks reached more than 70% of households. In contrast, fewer than 3% of households in Belgium, Greece and the UK had access to FTTP networks at the end of June 2017.
“Operators in Belgium and the UK have prioritised VDSL upgrades over FTTP deployment, therefore both countries are ranked in the top four EU member states in terms of VDSL availability,” Joiner said. “With VDSL upgrades near completion, operators in Belgium and the UK have announced plans to accelerate FTTP deployment, which will begin to be reflected in next year’s study.”
In addition to the EU28, the Commission’s report also covered broadband infrastructure in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.