9 November, 2012
The European Commission recently released a report that it commissioned to help tell the story of progress in executing Europe’s Digital Agenda. The report, “Broadband coverage in Europe in 2011: Mapping progress towards the coverage objectives of the Digital Agenda”, comes as welcome further evidence to Europe’s wider connectivity marketplace that progress is being made. While cable emerges as the “most important” NGA service and “the biggest contributor to rural NGA coverage”, the report also underscores the need for Europe’s mix of technologies to work in concert to help maximize and improve broadband coverage for Europeans.
The cable industry’s contributions to achieving the Digital Agenda, previously detailed in a report by Solon, have propelled the concept of infrastructure competition as a means to ensuring that different technologies compete with one another in the marketplace thus creating greater choice, diversity and competition in pricing. Cable Europe has repeated to Commissioner Neelie Kroes that, as a competitive investor in its own networks of tomorrow, it is a signed-up agent of the Digital Agenda. The numbers in the Solon report back up the claim as 95% of households in the reach of European cable networks will be able to subscribe to high speed internet services from cable in 2020. By the end of 2013 nearly all cable operators will have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0, enabling 100-200 Mbps speeds — and higher. With DOCSIS 3.0 rolled out, 100 Mbps speeds are already becoming the standard and cable is projected to offer 51% of EU households 100Mbps or more by 2013.
Some salient points in the Commission’s broadband coverage report include:
- Cable networks account for the next largest contribution to standard broadband coverage
- For fixed next-generation access (NGA) cable is the most important coverage across Europe
- Docsis 3 cable is the biggest contributor to rural NGA coverage (RNC)
- Docsis 3 services over the cable networks make a very important contribution to the availability of NGA in the study countries
- Cable networks make about the same contribution to rural coverage as WiMAX
While many have different views on Digital Agenda targets as too ambitious or not ambitious enough, the cable industry is keen to underscore that it is projected to achieve half of the 2020 coverage targets. With the glass already half full, it is a reminder of the importance of a rich mix of technologies to successfully execute the Digital Agenda for the Europe of tomorrow.
The importance of technology neutrality in this context cannot be underestimated. This is a point majored upon in a recent report commissioned by Liberty Global and released by WIK which argues that the Digital Agenda Europe targets will be met by incremental demand-driven investment which will, in turn, spur investments by other actors in the marketplace.