EU digital divide fuelled by fat pipe take-up

Wide discrepancies in broadband penetration rates are increasing the digital divide, with Denmark topping Ecta's league table but some countries significantly lagging behind
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

The digital divide in Europe is being exacerbated by large discrepancies in broadband penetration rates across the 25 countries of the EU, according to the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (Ecta).

The rate of UK fat pipe take-up puts the UK in sixth place in Ecta's broadband league table — up one spot from last year. Denmark tops the table, with a broadband penetration rate close to 30 percent, followed by the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Belgium.

According to the industry body, the relative health of the broadband market in countries such as the UK is down to regulator action to open up the local loop — which encourages competition and consumer choice and further stimulates take-up, it said. Those countries lagging behind are still largely saddled with former state-owned incumbents, said Ecta, which means their broadband markets stagnate.

Across the EU member states, Ecta said 64 million people now have broadband access, with overall penetration of 14.1 percent — an increase of 9 percent over the previous quarter.

Countries languishing at the bottom of the broadband heap include Portugal, Ireland and Greece, which has a take-up rate of just two per cent.

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