EU Broadband Take-up Pulls Ahead of US, but Speeds Still Low

European countries are outstripping the U.S. in terms of broadband take-up, but their broadband connections don't match the speeds of those in Asian countries.

Nine European Union member states -- Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. -- have broadband take-up above the U.S. level of 26.4 subscriptions per 100 individuals, the European Commission announced Thursday.

But Europe still lags behind Asian countries, particularly Japan and South Korea, in broadband speeds. In July, just 29 percent of E.U. broadband lines had speeds of at least 10Mbps, and only 5 percent of lines had average speeds at or above 30Mbps.

The Commission wants to see all broadband connections at speeds of least 30Mbps by 2020, and has set a target of at least half of European households subscribing to speeds above 100Mbps.

It plans to tackle this target with a focus on fiber-based next-generation networks. Currently only 1 percent of Europeans have a high-speed fiber Internet connection at home, compared to 12 percent of Japanese and 15 percent of South Koreans.

The Commission also wants to reassign radio frequencies for faster wireless services.

"We need to do more to reach our very fast broadband targets. In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband, for which demand is growing very fast," said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The new statistics also show that between July 2009 and July 2010, the number of broadband lines continued to grow throughout the E.U. by 8 percent. As of July 2010 around 128 million of the total 220 million households in the E.U had fixed broadband lines. The Netherlands and Denmark continue to be world leaders in broadband take up with nearly 40 lines per 100 citizens, reaching about 80 percent of households. Greece and the Czech Republic made the most progress in per-capita growth in the last year.

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