Almost half of European businesses regularly used mobile broadband for internet access in 2011, marking a massive increase in take-up over just one year.
At the start of 2010, a survey by Eurostat found that 27 percent of enterprises with 10 or more employees used mobile broadband through dongles or smartphones. According to Eurostat's new ICT usage in enterprises 2011 report (PDF), published on Tuesday, that figure has now shot up to 47 percent.
"Mobile broadband is a huge trend. We're pleased businesses see the advantages, and we are working hard to make sure the necessary spectrum is available to support this trend, and to ensure competition keeps access available at good prices," Ryan Heath, a spokesman for digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes, told ZDNet UK.
"Businesses clearly see the internet as a way to expand and to create efficiencies. That's why the Digital Agenda is such an important part of Europe's economic recovery," Heath added.
In the UK, the proportion of businesses using mobile broadband went up from 36 percent to 52 percent between 2010 and 2011. In large enterprises, the figures were substantially higher — 91-percent take-up, up from 79 percent the previous year.
Mobile broadband was used by a significantly higher proportion of businesses in some European countries. In France, the figure in 2011 was 60 percent, in Finland 77 percent, in Austria 65 percent and in Sweden 67 percent.
Across the EU, business use of fixed-line broadband is still more prevalent than that of mobile broadband. Between 2010 and 2011, the proportion of businesses using fixed connections rose from 84 percent to 87 percent.
Europe's statistical authority also released figures on business use of the internet for obtaining information from public authorities, such as those for tax and customs. Across the 27 EU member states, 74 percent of businesses were using the internet for this purpose at the start of 2011. In the UK, this figure was 80 percent.
At the start of 2011, 85 percent of UK businesses were submitting e-government forms electronically. This was notably higher than the EU average, which was 69 percent.
The numbers were much lower for businesses that had websites offering online ordering, booking or reservation facilities — just 17 percent across the EU, and 22 percent in the UK specifically.
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