Europe claims satellites enable total broadband coverage

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The European Commission claims that basic broadband is now available to everyone in Europe.

The Commission said the 100 percent coverage milestone has been made possible as a result of the availability of satellite broadband in all 28 member states. This means, in theory, that everyone can achieve a connection of at least 2Mbps, but given the relatively high costs of satellite broadband, it may not be affordable for everyone.

According to the Commission, 30 million people across Europe do not have access to fixed or mobile broadband networks because they live in rural or isolated areas. But it says these people can now get internet access via satellite in their respective countries.

To help European residents find out what satellite broadband options are available to them the Commission has launched a new website that allows people to find services they can use to get online.

European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes, who is responsible for the digital agenda, said the landmark moment would help to boost the region's productivity and prosperity.

"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."

Next: More speed

However, Kroes said more work is needed to improve networks further.

"Access to reliable and affordable higher broadband speeds of 30Mbps and 50Mbps 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," she said.

Figures from the Commission reveal that fixed line services are now available to 96 percent of the population of the union, with mobile broadband bringing coverage to 99.4 percent and satellite bringing it to the 100 percent target.

The Commission points out that many people do not know that satellite broadband is available to them.

The Commission's next target is to have 30Mbps broadband available to all households in the EU by 2020, with 50 percent of households having 100Mbps subscriptions or higher.

The news comes as the UK aims to boost its own broadband coverage and deliver speeds of at least 25Mbps for 90 percent of citizens by 2015, a target that looks unlikely to be met.

A report issued earlier this year showed speed trends by U.S. broadband providers, and whether they delivered as advertised. But many rural areas in the U.S. still have limited service.

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