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Most widespread broadband in Europe

The European Commission’s new report on the development of broadband in Europe shows that the differences between EU countries tend to diminish, but slowly. DSL remains the dominant technology and new entrants are gaining market share, approaching 50%.

In July of this year there were 107 million fixed broadband lines in the EU, with 17 million more connections installed than in the previous year, which points to a growth rate of 19.23%. Malta was the country with the fastest growth, while Portugal and Finland were on the list of the slowest.

In terms of the penetration rate, there is still a difference of more than 27 percentage points between the country with the most use of broadband (Holland, with 37.4%) and the most lagging (Bulgaria with 9.5%). Portugal is in the group of the last 10 with 15.8%.

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Denmark and the Netherlands continue to lead the European table, with a penetration rate of over 35%. Nine EU countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Germany) surpass the United States, which has a penetration rate of 25%, according to OECD statistics from June 2008.

For the first time, this study includes information on access speed, ascertaining that two thirds of calls are at 2 Mbps, but that in the EU 62% of users have access between 2 and 10 Mbps and only 12.8 % at speeds above 10 Mbps. Only 1.4% of European Internet subscribers have extremely fast connections (up to 100 Mbps or more), such as fiber optics.

In Portugal it is also the speed of 2 Mbps that dominates.

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DSL (Digital Subscribers Line) technology remains the main broadband technology used in the EU, with almost 86 million lines installed, but the growth of new lines is slowing sharply, decreasing 10.9% compared to the year past. Who is winning in terms of fixed connections is the cable, optical fiber to the home (FTTH) and wireless networks for the local loop.

Shy mobile broadbandAlthough the EC report states that mobile broadband is taking off in some countries, citing Denmark, Greece, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Spain as examples of Member States with penetration rates above 10%, the European average is still by 6.9%.

As of 1 July 2008, there were 34 million mobile broadband subscribers in the EU, a figure that does not include France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which did not provide information.

The figures now revealed by the European Commission, relative to the end of the first half of 2008, put Portugal in a worse position than the data for the third quarter of Anacom, the national regulator.

According to Anacom, at the end of the quarter the penetration rate of broadband Internet access stood at 15.1 percent for fixed accesses and 19.8 percent for mobile, corresponding to 2.13 million of mobile broadband Internet subscribers and around 1.64 million customers with fixed Internet access, of which about 1.6 million are on broadband.