EU broadband penetrates 22.5% of population

EU broadband penetration rose to 110.5 million users or 22.5% of the population in September 2008, according to ECTA's latest Broadband Scorecard - an increase of 9% over six months and 20% from a year earlier.

The highest penetration rates were in Denmark (37.5%) and Netherlands (36.3%) followed by Sweden, Finland and the UK. The lowest penetration rates at just above 10% were recorded in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. The highest growth rates over the full year were seen in Greece, Cyprus and Malta.

Local loop unbundling spurred competition in Greece and Cyprus.

Growth rates began to slow in several leading countries including Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and the UK, suggesting market maturity. Some countries with lower absolute take-up levels also experienced slow growth including Spain, Italy and Austria.

Fibre penetration was 0.3% on average across Europe, but with Sweden (5.6% of the population) and Estonia (4.9%) and Lithuania (4.2%) way ahead of the curve.

Incumbents retained 50% of the total retail broadband market, or 45% if resale is excluded. The source of most competition in the EU is unbundling of the local loop (44% of all lines supplied by competitors), followed by cable and other parallel infrastructures (36%) with resale and 'bitstream' access accounting for the remainder.