November 27, 2012 | Tim Johnson
One of the European Union’s most ambitious targets is to make sure that all its citizens can get access to superfast broadband at home, if they choose, by 2020. A new study by broadband specialists Point Topic shows Denmark is now nearly 62% towards achieving that aim. This means that 62% of Danish homes can subscribe to superfast broadband services delivering at least 30Mbps (megabits per second) of bandwidth.
Denmark is particularly strong in bringing broadband technologies to market. For example, the study shows that it has the highest coverage of LTE, the new fourth-generation broadband standard, of any EU country at 54%. It is also doing well in rolling-out high speed optical fibre for general use. In most other countries with high coverage of FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) the fibre is mainly serving large apartment blocks in urban areas. Denmark is reaching a wider market with a higher availability of FTTP in the countryside, at 12%, than any other EU country.
The study showing where Denmark stands has been produced for DG Connect, the department of the European Commission which is responsible for its “Digital Agenda” strategy. The purpose of the Digital Agenda is to harness the internet and other digital technologies to drive sustainable economic growth. Neelie Kroes, the Commission vice-president responsible, wants to see €7 billion earmarked for EU investments in broadband to help reach Digital Agenda targets, which in turn is meant to draw in private funds of many times that amount.
“This study gives us the best view so far of where action is needed on broadband coverage,” says Neelie Kroes. “It will help to guide decisions on where EU and private money can be invested to provide the best long-term return for taxpayers and investors such as pension funds.”
Called Broadband Coverage in Europe in 2011, the new study shows that 99% of the homes in Denmark can now get basic broadband, meaning services offering at least 144kbps (kilobits per second), if they want to subscribe. Almost 62% can already get superfast broadband, also known as NGA, for Next Generation Access. Looking at the 29 study countries as a whole (all 27 members of the EU, plus Norway and Iceland), 96% can already get basic broadband and over 50% – half way to the “digital heaven” target for 2020 – can get superfast.
Basic broadband is fairly widespread now, only three EU countries have less than 90% coverage. But there are huge variations in superfast availability both internationally and within countries. As far as Denmark is concerned, the map shows that the capital, Copenhagen and the other main urban areas all have over 65% superfast coverage. All the other provinces have between 44% and 63% and only the remote island of Bornholm is left behind, with less than 6%.
The study also shows how competing technologies are sharing out the superfast broadband market, as illustrated on the chart. In Denmark, Docsis 3 broadband over the cable TV network is still the most important superfast technology with 48% coverage. This reflects the situation across Europe as a whole where Docsis 3 also leads on 37%. FTTP is not far behind with 37% against a 12% European average. VDSL, which provides superfast speeds over the telephone network, is shown with zero coverage because, although TDC does have VDSL, it is not offered as such to the consumer market. This compares with the overall European average of 21% .
“When we add all these technologies together we have to take account of the overlap,” explains Tim Johnson, who led the project as Point Topic’s Chief Analyst. “This is how we get to superfast coverage of 62% in Denmark.” The problem is that the superfast operators compete to serve the richer and more densely populated areas in each country, leaving others underserved. “Denmark is doing better than most countries in this respect so maybe their experience can help others to start addressing the problem,” says Johnson.
Key to technologies
DSL – provides broadband speeds up to 24 megabits per second over the telephone network
VDSL (Very-fast DSL) – provides superfast speeds (30Mbps or more) over the telephone network
FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) – delivers the fastest possible broadband over optical fibre to apartment blocks or all the way to individual homes
WiMAX – the up-to-date standard for broadband over wireless links to fixed aerials
Standard cable – provides broadband over cable TV networks using older standards
Docsis 3 cable – the up-to-date standard for providing superfast broadband over cable TV networks
HSPA – the up-to-date standard for mobile broadband over 3G networks
LTE – the new standard for fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband
Satellite – two-way broadband delivered over the newest satellites using KA-Band technology
Standard combination – shows the combined coverage of all the fixed-line broadband technologies
NGA combination – shows the combined c overage of all the fixed-line superfast broadband technologies (VDSL, FTTP and Docsis 3)
About Point Topic
Point Topic is the primary websource for DSL, FTTx, cable and other broadband supplier and user statistics, databases, information and reports. Its data is in use worldwide amongst governments, commercial organisations and as general reference. A range of online services provides the most up-to-date, accurate and cost effective worldwide and UK specific broadband data sets available.