EU digital divide is widening

EU digital divide is widening

Access for all will be key plank of Commission's Telecoms Rules reforms to be tabled next month

Europe faces a growing digital divide between countries with widespread broadband access, and those without, according to the European Commission.

Across the region, average numbers of subscribers are rising. But the best performing – such as Denmark and the Netherlands – have around one third of the population using high-speed connections. Where at the bottom of the league table, Bulgaria has a penetration rate of only six per cent.

Lack of competition and regulatory issues are the main issues to address, according to EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding.

"Broadband growth remains strong with the top EU countries now world leaders in broadband penetration," said Reding.

"However, 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," she said.

Broadband for all will be a key plank of the EU Telecoms Rules reforms to be tabled by the Commission next month.

The overall number of EU lines has shot up from by 29 per cent to 90 million in the 12 months to July this year. Digital subscriber lines are the primary technology, but alternatives including cable, fibre to the home and wireless local loops are growing faster and represent 18 million connections.