Brussels, 17 October 2013
100% basic broadband coverage achieved across Europe – EU target achieved ahead of schedule.
Every EU household can now have a basic broadband connection, thanks to pan-EU availability of satellite broadband. Satellite connections are now available in all 28 countries meaning every European can take out a satellite subscription, including the three million people not already covered by fixed and mobile broadband networks.
Vice President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, today welcomed the milestone achievement of one of the main goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe:
“My motto is Every European Digital – now every European genuinely has the opportunity. We have more to do to improve networks and equalise the opportunity, but the opportunity is there.”
"Thanks to the extra coverage provided by satellite broadband, we have achieved our 2013 target of broadband for all. That's a great result for European citizens.
By the end of 2012, 99.4% of EU household had access to basic fixed or mobile broadband coverage; including 96.1% of households in rural areas. But the final 0.6% (or roughly 3 million citizens) included many families and businesses in isolated or rural areas where fixed or mobile broadband rollout is more cumbersome and expensive.
Kroes says: “The EU is technology neutral, but for those in the most isolated areas, satellite is a good option to stay connected; and it's likely to remain so."
Many Europeans don’t realise satellite broadband is an option for them. That is why Neelie Kroes today launched broadbandforall.eu a service developed by the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) to enables citizens to check quickly their satellite broadband options.
There are 148 satellites providing services to Europeans. Basic packages start from €10 per month, with 20Mbps packages from €25 per month, with average prices for satellite dishes being €350 (can be cheaper if a premium subscription is taken out).
However, Kroes warned that basic broadband is not enough, and that faster broadband speeds were essential to deliver a truly Connected Continent:
"Europe needs lightning-speed connectivity. We cannot leave some companies and citizens behind. Now we have basic broadband achieved, we have to immediately focus on investing in new fast networks.”
“Access to reliable and affordable higher broadband speeds of 30Mbps and 50 Mbps are essential for Europe's economic development and for the next generation of digital products and services like Connected Television, eHealth, Cloud Computing and Connected Cars,"
The Commission's Connected Continent package to strengthen the telecoms single market aims to build strong European champions in other areas of the digital ecosystem. For example, measures like a single authorisation regime will ensure that the right to operate in one member state gives the right to operate in all. This will in particular be a boost for cross-border technologies like satellite. With a common framework and collaborative governance, there should be no need to have to deal with multiple separate bureaucracies.
Modern bi-directional KA-band broadband satellites can provide download speeds up to 20 Megabits per second.
Companies such as Eutelsat and Astra are world leaders in satellite broadband. Today, more than 250 satellites provide more than 20 000 television programmes from geostationary orbit and around 148 of them are European operated by ESOA members.
In addition to this, the Commission has funded two initiatives to support satellite broadband deployment to Europe's regions in which 43 partners participate from 16 Member States. The SABER and BRESAT projects bring together national and regional authorities are working together with leading representatives of the Satellite Industry to raise awareness, to share best practices in the use of funds, to analyse roadblocks as well as to provide solutions.
Connectivity is essential to the broader EU digital ecosystem of equipment manufacturers, internet entrepreneurs, smart objects, wholesale, retail and logistics, European creative content, education and digital public services. In September, the Commission presented a package to strengthen the telecoms single market, and in particular stimulate investment in high speed broadband (see IP/13/828 and MEMO/13/779)
What is satellite broadband?
Internet-by-satellite, also referred to as satellite broadband, is a high-speed bi-directional Internet connection made via communications satellites instead of a telephone landline or other terrestrials means. Today satellite broadband is broadly comparable with DSL broadband in terms of cost and performance, with basic packages available from 10 euros per month. Whilst fibre and cable offers superior speed performance they are not available to all users, as satellite is today. This makes satellite attractive especially in isolated areas they may have poor or no fixed and mobile coverage.
What public support exists for further roll-out of broadbadn in rural areas?
Public funding also continues to play a role in delivering broadband connections to EU households and businesses, especially in rural areas. The Commission has generous State Aid Guidelines to help member states deliver broadband in a pro-competitive manner.
What are the Commission’s next broadband targets?
Tomorrow's digital services – from connected TV to cloud computing and e-Health – increasingly rely on fast, effective broadband connections. Such connections are becoming critical to our economy and, it is estimated that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration brings up the GDP by 1-1.5%. The Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), has set a goal to make every European digital and ensure Europe's competitiveness in the 21st century. Essential to this goal is fast connectivity and the DAE broadband targets: