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EC Scoreboard shows massive growth in LTE and high-speed broadband availability in Europe

LTE availability has almost tripled to 79.4 percent in the past two years, and 68 percent of EU homes can now get fast (30+Mbps) fixed broadband, according to the European Commission.

Bar chart of LTE coverage in EU countries
LTE mobile broadband coverage in EU countries.... Image credit: IHS

The European Union has seen dramatic growth in the availability of fourth-generation mobile broadband - LTE - and in fast broadband, according to the European Commission's latest Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2015.

The EC says that 4G mobile broadband is now available to 79.4 percent of households, up from 27 percent two years ago. (It's available but that doesn't necessarily mean they use it.) The graph above shows that the Czech Republic (CZ), Malta (MT) and Bulgaria (BG) enjoyed the most spectacular growth, the last two having started from zero.

Fast broadband - at least 30Mbps - is now available to 68.1 percent of EU homes. The EC calls this Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband. NGA coverage in rural areas increased from 18.1 percent in 2013 to 25.1 percent today. However, less than a third of EU internet users actually subscribe to an NGA service.

IHS, which supplied much of the research, says that "the growth in overall NGA coverage can be primarily attributed to an increase in very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) coverage, which grew by over seven percentage points in the year, reaching 37.6 percent of EU households by the end of 2014."

It's quicker and, in the short term, cheaper to provide Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) and then link to premises using VDSL over copper than to install Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP).

However, IHS says that FTTP "also increased, with services available to 18.7 percent of European households", led by the Baltic countries. In 2014, FTTP was available to "nearly 95 percent of households in Lithuania and 83.2 percent of households in Latvia".

The EC Scoreboard notes that "internet traffic per user (downloads and uploads) is much higher in the US than in Western Europe on both fixed networks (75GB vs 39GB per month) and mobile (1.8GB vs 0.8GB per month)".

It also notes that "EU telecom operator revenues have been declining since 2010 (from €246bn in 2010 to €230bn in 2014), while in the US they are still growing (from €220bn in 2010 to €266bn in 2014)".

It's interesting that, in Europe, fixed line users consume almost 50 times more bandwidth than mobile users, and 42x more bandwidth in the USA.

In the graph above, countries are identified by their ISO standard two-letter codes, except for Greece (EL) and the United Kingdom (UK). Most should be guessable except Croatia (HR for Hrvatska), Estonia (EE for Eesti), and possibly Spain (ES for Espana). Some less familiar codes include LV (Latvia), LT (Lithuania), SI (Slovenia) and SK (Slovak Republic).

Links:

Dramatic Rise in European 4G Coverage and High-Speed Broadband, IHS and European Commission Study Says

EU-28 and candidate countries, languages and currencies: names, codes and listing order