EC report shows 'dramatic rise' in European 4G coverage

The European Commission's 2015 Digital Agenda Scoreboard revealed that LTE mobile broadband was available to nearly eight in 10 (79.4 per cent) of households across the European Union at the end of 2014, a significant increase on the situation at end-2013.

The report, which is based on research conducted by IHS and Valdani, Vicari & Associati, added that this represents a 20 percentage point increase compared to 2013 and shows that LTE is the fastest growing of the technologies covered in the study.

"Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden lead the European Union, with 99 per cent of households covered by LTE," said Alzbeta Fellenbaum, senior analyst at IHS Technology. "Other countries with outstanding performance in LTE coverage also include the Czech Republic and Malta, which saw an increase in coverage from 12 per cent to 91.9 per cent and from no coverage to 67 per cent, respectively."

The report also shows that 68 per cent of homes now have access to next-generation access (NGA) broadband, with NGA coverage reaching 68.1 per cent of EU homes. This means that high-speed (at least 30 Mbps) broadband services are now available to 15.5 million households more than in 2013.

Overall fixed broadband coverage was unchanged at 97 per cent, which the report said points to a slowing trajectory as Member States focus on NGA and mobile technologies.

At 89.6 percent, rural fixed broadband coverage also stayed at its 2013 level, but availability of NGA technologies in rural areas increased from 18.1 per cent in 2013 to 25.1 per cent of rural homes passed by high-speed networks in 2014.

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 per cent of EU households by the end of 2014.

Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) coverage also increased, with services available to 18.7 per cent of European households. The report noted that Baltic countries traditionally lead in the availability of FTTP services. In 2014 Lithuania and Latvia remained the two countries with the highest FTTP coverage, with homes passed by FTTP reaching nearly 95 per cent of households in Lithuania and 83.2 per cent of households in Latvia.

However, the strongest growth in FTTP coverage compared to 2013 was recorded in Portugal and Spain, where FTTP coverage increased by 16.1 and 22.1 percentage points respectively, reaching 65.8 per cent of Portuguese and 44.8 per cent of Spanish homes.

Despite the improvement in connectivity, the report also noted that EU telecom operator revenues have been declining since 2010 (from €246 billion ($278 billion) in 2010 to €230 billion in 2014), while in the U.S. they are still growing (from €220 billion in 2010 to €266 billion in 2014).

For more:
- see the 2015 Digital Agenda Scoreboard

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