High speed mobile broadband in Europe – What will be the tale of 2012?

February 26, 2013   |   Oliver Johnson

Data delivery in Europe will find a way – any way

Leading broadband research company Point Topic believes that LTE and other mobile technologies will have an even more important part to play in providing Europeans with high-speed and affordable bandwidth, now that the Connecting Europe Facility has been gutted.

Point Topic is in the process of updating its study for the European Commission, Broadband Coverage in Europe 2011. From 9% population coverage for LTE at the end of 2011 we expect that while there will be a significant increase by the end of 2012. It is only in selected areas of Europe that there will be significant rural coverage.

As is typical of early commercial deployment patterns it will be the case that high speed rural LTE in European markets will need some form of central intervention.

Regulators know this and, like the licence that Telefonica recently won in the UK, there will be coverage conditions attached in a number of cases.  As incumbents, regulators and central authorities juggle budgets, react to demand and implement policy decisions the challenges are crystallising.

Consumers still want their bits, they don’t care about the pipes

Top of the list for policy makers is coverage and availability for as much of the population as they can manage. Not only do people need to have access to basic broadband, they need to be able to afford it and be able to use it. Then comes getting higher and higher bandwidths to those who want it.

Europe is not adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy for its telecoms infrastructure, to the disappointment of many, but is reacting to demand. This was echoed at the FTTH Council in London earlier this month.

“Unless you force member states to spend their separately allocated structural funds on broadband infrastructure, which is very unlikely, you won’t get any significant contribution to coverage from anyone other than existing incumbents.

“One problem there is they are commercial organisations who make decisions based on relatively short, three to five year, timescales for their return on investment.  Not ideal for large, long term, expensive infrastructure projects,” says Johnson

This opens the door further for data delivery solutions that have a low marginal cost for additional customers.  Mobile, satellite and WiFi.

Intelligent use of existing infrastructure in combination with the new should mean that Europe can provide enough bandwidth to its population to keep most people happy.

“It’s going to be hybrid Europe going forward as local conditions require local solutions and one size definitely won’t fit all.

It’s time to be technology agnostics. Access to the bits and bytes you want, when and where you want them is the goal and if we can make cooperative use of the range of provision options we have at our disposal that should be a reality for all of Europe, hopefully sooner rather than later,” says Johnson.

Further reading

Collating the information is a significant task and Point Topic is in the middle of an update.  After a successful project for the European Commission, Broadband Coverage In Europe 2011, Point Topic has been awarded the contract to update the input for the Digital Scorecard to the end of 2012.

“This study gives us the best view so far of where action is needed on broadband coverage,” says Neelie Kroes,Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda .  “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.”

Point Topic has put together information sheets for each of the EU member states.  The top countries at the end of 2011 were Denmark for LTE with over 54% population coverage, Sweden with almost 48% but there’s not much room at the bottom of the list with 18 of the 27 member states reporting zero LTE coverage at the end of 2011.

Data on each EU27 member states can be found on Point Topic’s website.

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 resource for many.  A range of online services provides the most up-to-date, accurate and cost effective worldwide and European specific broadband data sets available. See www.point-topic.com for more details.

For media information please contact Oliver Johnson, [email protected]: +44 (0)20 3301 3303.