The European Union has seen a growth of more than 11 million fixed broadband connections between July 2008 and July 2009, ending the month with a broadband penetration of 24 percent compared with 21.6 percent in July 2008, according to a report published by the European Commission. The report also shows that mobile broadband is gaining momentum in Europe, with a 54 percent increase since January and now at a penetration rate of 4.2 percent per 100 citizens. Last but not least, broadband internet connections in Europe are increasingly faster. 80 percent of broadband lines in the EU now have download speeds of 2 Mbps or greater, growing 5 percent year-on-year. Other findings include that fixed broadband connections grew by 10.7 percent on average to around 120 million on 30 July. Denmark and the Netherlands continue to be world leaders in broadband take up, with nearly 40 percent of the population having a broadband connection, but growth rates are slowing as they approach saturation. Nine EU countries ( Denmark 37.3%, the Netherlands 36.2%, Sweden 31.3%, Finland 30.7%, Luxembourg 28.8%, the United Kingdom 28.4%, France 27.7%, Germany 27.5% and now also Belgium 27.5%) are above the United States, where the level of broadband take up stands at 25.8 percent and is slowing according to OECD May 2009 statistics . Luxembourg (+18.3%) and Portugal (+11.7%) experienced faster growth in 2009 than in 2008.
The average market share of incumbent telecoms operators in the EU is stable at around 45 percent % (highest at 80% in Cyprus, 67% in both Luxembourg and Finland and lowest at 27% in the UK). However, incumbent control over the broadband markets (including resale of wholesale lines) is structurally in decline to the benefit of infrastructure base competition (basically through the local loop unbundling that enables access to the network by third parties). Full unbundled local loops and shared access lines represent 71.4 percent of DSL , up from 65.2 percent one year ago. Growth in the number of unbundled local loops, although slower than last year, takes place at the expenses of resale, a type of low-investment access for new entrants, which has shrunk from 18.2 percent to 10.6 percent of DSL lines since 2008. Telecoms new entrants have appeared to invest progressively and have contributed to creating a more competitive broadband market. In terms of technology, DSL remains the most diffused broadband access technology in Europe with 94 million lines. Fibre-to-the-home grew by 40 percent between July 2008 and July 2009, but at the moment only represents 1.75 percent of the total lines in Europe as it is present only in a handful of countries: Latvia has the largest share of fibre lines over the total number of broadband lines, followed by Sweden which has the largest number of fibre lines. Broadband access based on mobile technologies (which typically allow mobile internet via laptops) is particularly taking off in Austria (13.8%), Sweden (12.6%), Portugal (10.8%) and Ireland (8.3%). The current mobile broadband penetration in Europe stands at 4.2 percent, a 54 percent increase since January 2009.
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