Advanced Television

EU broadband – big but patchy

October 17, 2007

Access to broadband has increased in the European Union to 90 million lines, but it should act to increase competition and tackle EU states that are lagging behind, the Commission says.

Broadband access in the EU’s 25 oldest member states — excluding Romania and Bulgaria — increased by 28.7 per cent from July 2006 to July 2007, the European Commission said. Broadband access was the highest in Denmark (37.2 per cent) and the Netherlands (33.1 per cent), while it is only 5.7 per cent in Bulgaria, and 6.6 percent in Romania, according to EU figures.

The Commission said the gap was widening slightly. “It is unacceptable that the gap between the strongest and weakest performers in Europe is growing. Europe must act now to get its broadband house in order,” EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said.

She said she would make specific proposals as part a package of reforms of EU telecom rules on 13th November. “Lack of competition and regulatory weaknesses are cited as the main obstacles to broadband growth,” the Commission said. Reding has said she will propose to give all national telecoms regulators the power to separate the network and business arms of operators in case of serious competition problems.

She also wants a new pan-EU regulator to be able to impose competition remedies on a national regulator, jointly with the Commission, if Brussels is not happy with the way a national regulator handles a problem.

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