EU says Internet speeds up, prices down

More than 50,000 European homes and offices added a broadband Internet connection every day last year, according to the European Commission quoted in an Associated Press report.

The Commission has found that increasing competition has cut prices as Internet speeds increase, while mobile 3G Internet services doubled last year to include 88 million users, some 20% of the EU's population.

Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands now top the world in their proportion of residents with broadband service, although the European Union as a whole lags behind other regions with a broadband penetration rate of 20%, the report said.

More than half of broadband connections have speeds of 2Mbps to 10Mbps although a 'significant' number of connections transmit data at 10Mbps.

Some 19 million broadband lines were added across Europe last year, generating revenues of €62.85 billion/US$98 billion for service providers.

However, the Commission criticised former state monopolies for keeping a tight grip on their national markets, saying they hold nearly half of broadband lines across the EU.

It added newer rivals still have limited access to lines that would allow them to provide more connections to customers.

The European Commission repeated a warning that mobile phone operators are charging customers too much for data roaming, Internet service and text messaging when they go abroad. Commissioner Viviane Reding has already stated that she will intervene and impose pricing rules if the industry itself hasn't taken appropriate action by 1st July 2008.