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Digital Agenda

A central aim of the European Union´s ICT policy has been to avoid a division of populations in Europe into broadband haves and have nots. Broadband lines are defined by Eurostat as those “...with a capacity equal or higher than 144 Kbits/s’ with various technologies such as digital subscriber line (DSL) and its variations (xDSL), or cable modem (connects the computer to a local television line).”

In September 2011 the broadband penetration rate was on average 26% in EU27, with a range from around 14% up to almost 40%. In 2011 the broadband penetration rate was 32% in Sweden, 23% in Ireland, 24% in Slovenia and 19% in Portugal.

Figure 2.1 Broadband penetration rates. Number of broadband access lines per 100 inhabitants. Source: Eurostat (2011)

The European Commission aims:

...to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits from a digital single market based on fast and ultra fast internet and interoperable applications. ...

It restated the objective to bring basic broadband to all Europeans seeks to ensure that, by 2020:

  • 50% or more of European households subscribe to internet connections above 100 Mbps.

Source: Digital Agenda for Europe - COM(2010) 245. Official Journal of the European Union: Retrieved from internet September 2011.



Wireless or fixed broadband connecting to the internet is a necessity today. Being without internet connection a day or more is a problem for most citizens. But as access to the internet varies in Europe, some have to do without. The most recent data shows that on average 68% of all men (M) and 62% of all women (W) in Europe has access to the internet in their homes.

Figure below shows individuals regularly using the internet, by gender and type of connection. “This indicator covers all individuals aged 16 to 74 who access the internet, on average, at least once a week, within the last three months before the survey. Use includes all locations and methods of access.”(Eurostat, 2011).

Individuals regularly using the Internet, by gender and type of connection. Source: Eurostat (2010)

There are large variations with internet access, from the Netherlands (91% M and 86% W), Luxembourg (91% M and 81% W), down to Greece (46% M and 36% W), Romania (35% M and 33% W), and Bulgaria (42% M and 41% W). Connections in the partner countries were: Sweden (89% M and 88% W), Ireland (63% M and 64% W), Slovenia (67% M and 62% W) and Portugal (52% M and 42% W).

Having access to internet connection is an important business tool, as it allows businesses to communicate with clients and suppliers and limits business migration to urban areas. Business data on fixed or mobile broadband have similar patterns to household figures, i.e., companies in Bulgaria (61%) and Romania (49%) are at the bottom and countries with high GDP are at the top[1] in usage. Enterprises in partner countries with 10 or more employees with fixed or mobile broadband access 2010 were 88% in Sweden, 84% in Ireland, 85% in Slovenia and 83% in Portugal.

Figure Enterprises in Europe with 10 or more employees with fixed or mobile broadband access 2010. Source: Eurostat

 1) Regrettably this statistic covers only companies with ten or more employees. 

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