Broadband access: Netherlands wins but there are surprising losers in EU rankings

Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands have the most advanced digital economies in the EU followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, the UK and Ireland.

Image: European Commission

Demand for mobile services may be contracting, but the Netherlands has emerged in a new report as the European Union country with the fastest mobile and fixed broadband, and the most widespread access to broadband last year.

However, on a gloomier note, according to the same recent European Commission Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report, 44 percent of Europeans still lacked basic digital skills, while less than half of small and medium-sized businesses sold their products or services to another European country.

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The EC publishes the report annually to track how well member-state economies are adapting to digital technology, which it reckons is key to economic competitiveness and the cornerstone of the digital single market.

Broadband connectivity refers to the infrastructure of high-speed internet access available in each country. The EC defines high-speed fixed broadband connections as those that provide their users with at least a 30Mbps bandwidth, and high-speed mobile broadband connections as ones that take place across a 4G network.

The Netherlands ranked first in broadband connectivity, followed by Luxembourg and Belgium. In those countries, services that use broadband are universal, and mobile broadband access is fast.

But the Netherlands’ ubiquitous, high-speed broadband connections have not reversed the declines in the Dutch cellular market.

According to Telecompaper, Dutch mobile revenues fell by four percent in 2016, following two years of steady declines. In 2015, the Dutch mobile market contracted by 3.3 percent and by 7.5 percent in 2014.

The decreases may be partly due to consumers using more messaging and video apps on their devices, sometimes choosing Wi-Fi over 4G connections to avoid the extra costs associated with exhausting their monthly data bandwidth allocations from their cellular providers.

Apart from broadband connectivity, the EC report ranked each of the EU’s…

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