Broadband in Europe speeding up

image captionMobile broadband is proving popular across Europe, suggest official figures

Broadband speeds in Europe have risen sharply in only a year, suggest official EC figures.

In July 2010, 29% of broadband lines in Europe ran at speeds of at least 10 Mbps, revealed Commission research.

By contrast in July 2009 only 15% of broadband lines were capable of hitting that speed.

Despite the higher rates, the Commission warned that a lot of work needed to be done to meet Europe-wide targets on access and speed.

"Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe's prosperity and well-being," said Neelie Kroes, commissioner for the digital agenda.

"Take up and available speeds are improving," she said, "but we need to do more to reach our very fast broadband targets."

The EC has set a target of giving every European citizen access to a speed of 30Mbps or more by 2020 and half of all the 220 million households in the region access to 100mbps broadband.

The size of the task the EC has set itself was revealed by figures in the research which showed the relatively small numbers using the highest speed connections. About 5% of all broadband lines can run at 30mbps and only 0.5% at 100Mbps or higher.

More Europeans are signing up for broadband too, found the research, with nearly 26 of every 100 citizens using high-speed net links. In 2009, the figure was almost 24.

But this growth was dwarfed by that of mobile broadband which saw a 45% in increase in users. Commissioner Kroes said member states needed to speed up their efforts to free spectrum to support on-the-go broadband.

The figures did reveal a slight slow down in the number of broadband connections being set up. Between July 2009 and July 2010 the number of broadband lines in the US grew by 8%, compared to 11% the year before.

Denmark and the Netherlands lead the way in European broadband with high-speed links already available to about 80% of households.

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