UK slips on superfast broadband adoption

The latest report from Ofcom shows there is more enthusiasm for superfast broadband adoption in Belgium and Malta than in the UK

The take-up of superfast broadband by UK citizens is lower than the majority of other EU countries, according to a report from Ofcom.

The European broadband scorecard was set up to track government progress as it worked towards its goal of having the best broadband in Europe by 2015.

However, the first report has shown it may be the buying public holding back figures, as well as a slow technical roll-out.

The report compared the UK with Germany, Spain, France and Italy – the EU5. Ofcom claimed this offered the best comparison due to the brevity of population, geography and legacy infrastructure across the EU.

In the UK, 65% of homes can access superfast broadband connections – defined by Ofcom as technologies providing download speeds of 30Mbps and above – putting it at number three in the EU5, behind Germany and Spain.

But when compared with all 27 states of the EU, the UK came in 17th place, with the likes of Belgium, the Netherlands and Malta all having wider-reaching superfast connectivity.

While take-up for fixed broadband was high, at 77 households per 100, this number dropped dramatically to just two connections per household for superfast broadband. This compared with 14 per 100 in Malta, 13 per 100 in Belgium and 11 per 100 in Lithuania.

The UK did perform better on cost, however, with the report placing it in eighth for best offer of single-service superfast broadband pricing.

Ofcom defended UK progress though, saying since these figures were collated in the summer of 2012, and further work had since been done to improve superfast adoption.

“Coverage and take-up of superfast broadband has increased in the UK since much of the European-comparable data was collected,” the regulator said in a statement.

 “Operators are currently accelerating fibre roll-out, cable broadband speeds are being increased, and the government is proceeding with its programme of publicly-funded superfast deployment in rural areas, which gained European Commission approval in November,” the statement said.

There is not a set date for the next scorecard to show these improvements, but Ofcom said it hoped to include it as part of its annual International Communications Market Report, normally published in July or August each year.

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