Broadband internet coverage rises across EU

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As researchers and decision makers gather for the fourth edition of the BroadBand Europe conference in Antwerp, new figures released by Eurostat show a marked increase in the use of broadband technologies for internet connection in Europe.

42% of households in the EU 27 had a broadband connection in the first quarter of 2007, compared with 30% in the same quarter of 2006. In addition, over half of European households had internet access, rising from 49% to the current figure of 54%. One European citizen in 10 has now created a web page, implying increasingly active net usage by web surfers.

The most common activity continues to be surfing the web through a search engine, with 57% of the individuals interviewed carrying out this activity in the first three months of 2007. Half of the users said they had sent emails with attachments, while 30% protect their computers with antivirus programs.

More advanced uses of the web, however, are a prerogative for a smaller amount of users. 10% create web pages, 13% use file sharing programs and 15% make phone calls over the internet.

Among the member states, northern and Scandinavian Europe continues to have the highest number of households equipped with a broadband connection, with over two thirds of households connected in the Netherlands (74%), Denmark (70%) and Sweden (67%). Belgium, Germany, Estonia, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovenia, Finland and the UK are all above the EU average of 54%.

The most advanced activities generally correspond to the figures on use of broadband connections. 18% of Danish users claim to have created a web page – together with Estonia, the highest percentage in Europe. Almost a quarter of Dutch web users share files on the net, compared with an EU average of 13%. The European leaders in internet phone calls are the French: 29% use programs like Skype or Voipcheap.

On the other hand, internet and broadband penetration in some EU countries remains very low, with Greece (where 7% of households have a broadband connection), Romania (8%) and Bulgaria (15%) at the bottom of the league.

Eurostat also underline the generation gap among European citizens in regular internet use: while 79% of young males between 16 and 24 surf the net at least once a week, the percentage decreases to 31% for the over 55s. For females, the percentages are even lower, with 77% of the young involved and just 19% of older people.

These figures, and the latest innovations in the broadband sector, will be the core topics at the BroadBand Europe conference, which takes place from Monday to Thursday in Antwerp, Flanders.

The spotlight of this fourth yearly edition is a session dedicated to the growing importance of ‘Green ICT’. Over 50 new papers will be presented during the conference, outlining the latest innovations in access, metro and transport networks, first mile solutions, quality of service, fixed mobile convergence, the impact of multimedia and techno-economic evaluations.

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