November 16, 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 Lithuania is now over 62% towards achieving that aim. This means that 62% of Lithuanian homes can subscribe to superfast broadband services delivering at least 30Mbps (megabits per second) of bandwidth.
Not only is Lithuania well ahead of the European average for superfast broadband but at 59% it has the second-highest coverage of FTTP of all the countries studied, just behind Latvia. (FTTP stands for fibre-to-the-premises, meaning optical fibre broadband is provided to apartment blocks or individual homes.)
The report which shows Lithuania’s strong position 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 88% of the homes in Lithuania can now get basic broadband, meaning services offering at least 144kbps (kilobits per second), if they want to subscribe. Over 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, with only three EU countries having less than 90% coverage. But there are huge variations in superfast availability both internationally and within countries. As far as Lithuania is concerned, the map shows that the capital Vilnius, Kaunas the second city and Klaipeda on the Baltic coast all have good superfast coverage at over 65%. Two other provinces in the south-east have over 35% coverage but the remainder are all under 35% and in fact the most rural ones are under 10%.
The study also shows how competing technologies are sharing out the superfast broadband market as illustrated on the chart. In Lithuania, FTTP is the most important superfast technology with 59% coverage. This is very different from the situation across Europe as a whole where FTTP coverage averages only 12%. Docsis 3, the standard for superfast broadband over cable TV networks, is also ahead of the European average in Lithuania, with 42% coverage against 37%. On the other hand VDSL, which provides superfast speeds over the telephone network, is not used at all in Lithuania but averages 21% coverage for Europe as a whole.
“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 Lithuania.” The problem is that the superfast operators compete to serve the richer and more densely populated areas in each country, leaving others underserved. “Hopefully this project will give policy-makers some of the information they need to start addressing that 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.