Brussels, 13 October 2010
Digital Agenda: household survey reveals more Europeans on-line but concerned about costs and security
Europeans are becoming increasingly "digital" according to a European Commission Eurobarometer survey which questioned 27,000 households throughout the EU on their use of internet, telephones and TV. More Europeans are subscribing to broadband internet and digital television in fixed-cost bundled 'packages'. Increased broadband take-up means even more Europeans are going online with 35% now using social networking websites. However, they have concerns about cost, quality of service and security, as well as online freedom. One fifth of fixed and mobile internet users reveal that they have experienced problems with blocked content and applications. The Commission's May 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe not only sets ambitious targets to bring broadband internet to all of Europe's citizens but also outlines measures to boost competition, trust and security (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
Internet and broadband internet access
The survey reveals that 43% of EU households still do not have Internet access. That underlines the ambitious target the Commission has set in the Digital Agenda: every European Digital. Almost one in five households surveyed mentioned the high costs associated with the Internet being the reason for having no Internet connection at home. Enhancing competition to get the prices down, an important objective of the Digital Agenda, would therefore be likely to encourage more people to get an Internet connection.
Many of those non-connected at home state that they are not interested in the Internet. The Commission's view is that all EU citizens should have the option of subscribing to broadband Internet and that if all were aware of the potential advantages (e.g. in terms of access to innovative services, working from home), more would be likely to do so.
Of the households questioned, 38% subscribe to a package with two or more services. Digital terrestrial TV is received by nearly one quarter of EU households surveyed, a similar level to satellite TV.
Cost and quality concerns
According to the survey, 61% of EU mobile phone users and 49% of landline subscribers limit their calls because of cost concerns. In households with broadband connections, 30% say that the download speed does not remain constant, 36% experience connection breakdowns and 24% say that performance does not match contract conditions.
The Digital Agenda aims to ensure access to 30 Mbps speed internet for all Europeans by 2020 and to have at least 50% of European households with subscriptions to internet connections above 100Mbps by that date. The Commission recently adopted a three part package of broadband measures to help to realise this goal (see IP/10/1142, MEMO/10/427, MEMO/10/426 and MEMO/10/424).
Internet trust and security
84% of households would want to be notified if their personal data was lost, stolen or altered. 45% are worried about their personal data being misused on social networking sites. Those under 24 years old are less worried about this than the over 40s. The 2009 telecom package, due to be implemented by 26 May 2011, contains several provisions to oblige providers of publicly-available electronic communication services to inform either the national regulator or the subscribers on breaches of personal data (see MEMO/09/568).
21% of the European households with internet access surveyed considered that their access to certain online content and applications has been blocked by their internet provider. This is also mentioned by an equivalent proportion of mobile internet users, but around one third attribute this to the limited capacity of their phone or their phone subscription. The Commission has recently undertaken a consultation on the open internet and net neutrality (see IP/10/860), to prepare its forthcoming report on the extent of any such problems and on whether additional measures are needed in this area.
Additional survey findings
More than one third of EU citizens use a social networking site; this is true both for countries with high (e.g. The Netherlands) and low (e.g. Latvia) internet take-up. 22% of households with internet access use their computer to make voice calls over the internet. Households in the 12 newer Member States are twice as likely to do this as those in the other 15 Member States.
98% of EU households have access to a telephone and an increasing proportion of households (87%) have access to a mobile phone. Only 11% have fixed-line access only. 25% use only a mobile phone and have no fixed phone line.
98% of EU households have television but only 30% use transmission via a cable network, while 23% use digital TV, an increase of 11% compared to 2007.
The full survey can be found at:
Penetration rates for key telecom services
Average EU 27 households Nov.-Dec. 2009
Average EU 27 households Nov.-Dec. 2007
% points change Nov.-Dec. 2009/ Nov.-Dec. 2007
Overall telephone access (fixed and/ or mobile)
Mobile telephone access
Fixed telephone access
Both fixed & mobile telephone access
Mobile but no fixed telephone access
Fixed but no mobile telephone access
Digital Terrestrial TV
Service package (bundles)