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EU official concerned over super-fast broadband target
The EU could miss its high-speed broadband target, an official has warned.An EU official has expressed concern about figures showing that member states are still a long way from achieving their super-fast broadband targets.
Although broadband penetration stands at 95.3 per cent across the continent - close to the goal of 100 per cent access by 2013 - only one-quarter of European households currently have a broadband connection.
Super-fast broadband figures are even more concerning, with only 6.5 per cent of European broadband lines offering speeds of 30Mbps or more, while just 0.9 per cent support download rates of 100Mbps. The EU is aiming to deliver these high-speed connections to 100 per cent of citizens by 2020.
According to EurActiv, an EU official admitted its target is likely to be missed unless a major change in policy is adopted.
"Figures on super-fast internet are far from comforting," they added.
Luigi Gambardella, executive board chair of the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association, said overall revenues in the telecoms sector fell by 1.4 per cent and two per cent respectively in 2010 and 2011, indicating that the industry is being affected by structural rather than cyclical changes.
He claimed "urgent" action is required to ensure that this negative performance does not prevent the EU's super-fast broadband access goals from being achieved.
"Insisting on deploying only fibre to the premise crowds out other cost-effective options for delivering high-speed broadband in the near future," Mr Gambardella commented. "This is not a recipe for success; it is a recipe for delay and failure."
Ryan Heath, spokesperson of EU Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes, insisted Europe is doing "very well" in terms of basic and mobile broadband access, but said progress on fibre optic connectivity is moving more slowly.
Last September, a major study of broadband performance was launched by the European Commission in order to gain a clearer picture on the speeds and reliability of internet services in member states.