One of the EU's top priorities is to ensure 100 per cent of citizens in its member states are connected to super-fast broadband. This is an ambitious target and will take some time to implement. However, good progress has already been made and satellite broadband is playing a key role in taking Europe online.
100 per cent coverage
The EU reached an important milestone for its internet project in October, when it announced 100 per cent basic broadband coverage had been achieved across its member nations. Satellite broadband played a key role in this accomplishment.
At the end of 2012, 99.4 per cent of European households had access to basic broadband. The majority of the remainder were located in remote rural areas, where it was not feasible to introduce fixed-line connections. However, satellite is ideal for such locations. It only requires the installation of a small dish and modem to function, meaning there is no need for time-consuming and expensive infrastructure developments such as erecting telephone masts and laying underground cables.
Commenting on the announcement, vice-president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes stated: "My motto is Every European Digital - now every European genuinely has the opportunity. We have more to do to improve networks and equalise the opportunity, but the opportunity is there.
"Thanks to the extra coverage provided by satellite broadband, we have achieved our 2013 target of broadband for all."
A real competitor
The growing prominence of satellite in Europe was highlighted by broadband research firm Point Topic in July. Oliver Johnson, the organisation's chief executive, said he believed the case for using the technology to boost the EU's connectivity had reached a tipping point, due to the fact it is now capable of providing speeds of up to 20 Mbps.
Mr Johnson claimed satellite could be an important tool in helping the roughly 200 million people across the continent who cannot access super-fast services.
"Satellite subscription costs are affordable for most, the bandwidth and data caps have improved significantly in the last ten years and you can be up and running comparatively quickly.
"In fact, satellite isn’t just for those hard to reach areas anymore - it’s turning into a real competitor for bandwidth provision in a number of situations," he stated.
When you consider satellite has helped the EU achieve 100 per cent basic broadband coverage since Mr Johnson made these comments, it's clear his faith in the technology was well placed.
Satellite broadband is playing an important role here in the UK, as well as on the continent. A significant number of people are struggling with slow, poor-quality connections in Britain, with the problem most severe in rural areas.
Telecoms watchdog Ofcom released its Infrastructure Report in October, which revealed more than a quarter of UK households have no access to super-fast broadband, while the figure is around half in Scotland and Wales. Furthermore, just under eight per cent of households in Britain as a whole are relying on connections no faster than two Mbps.
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