Broadband: Incumbents' grasp slipping in Europe

But does BT still have too much power?

But does BT still have too much power?

As the EU gets ever more broadband-enabled, the incumbent telcos are losing their grip on Europe's fat pipes.

According to research from the European Commission, the incumbents' control over European broadband is continuing to drop as fewer lines are provided by dominant telcos such as Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom.

In July 2003, the EC found, incumbents controlled 77.9 per cent of Europe's DSL broadband lines. By July 2008, that figure had fallen to 55.9 per cent.

Over broadband as a whole, the drop was slightly less marked but still significant: July 2003 saw the incumbents control 58.7 per cent of Europe's broadband lines. In July 2008, they held just 45.6 per cent.

Of the rest of Europe's broadband lines, an average of 48.2 per cent are provided by new entrants and 6.3 per cent by resale of incumbents' lines.

The UK, however, is more at the mercy of incumbents than other European counterparts: 25.6 per cent of UK lines are sold directly by BT. However, its market share rises to 44.6 per cent once resold lines are added in.

The EC's report said: "The UK (with 19.0 percentage points difference between the market share of the incumbent excluding and including resale lines of alternative operators), Germany (with 15.0 percentage points) and Luxembourg (with 10.3 percentage points) are good examples of the incumbents' inflated market power."

According to the research, just over 15 per cent of all Europe's DSL lines are found in the UK. Over the last 12 months to July 2008, the UK added 1.8 million new broadband lines.