European citizens are showing an increasing demand for high-speed broadband services, as almost half say they would switch to higher speed services when they are made available.
Research of almost 30,000 citizens by the European Commission (EC) found that 45 percent of households would be willing to upgrade or switch suppliers if it meant they would receive faster internet connections.
This is a marked increase on the same findings in 2012 when only 14 percent of citizens surveyed said they would be willing to pay more to upgrade. Vice president for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said the result should act as an incentive for internet service providers to continue to boost the speeds of their networks to capitalise on this pent-up demand.
"Consumers increasingly care about their internet being fast enough to watch videos, for example. And for those who run businesses from their home, speed is also a competitiveness issue,” she said. “Consumers now focus on both speed and price when making their choices.”
The findings come after a recent report found that the average speed on offer in the EU is 19Mbps. While this is fairly impressive, it is some way short of the 30Mbps for all by 2013 pledge made by the EC as part of its commitment to boosting the digital infrastructure of the region.
Other issues thrown up by the survey found that video blocks on sites like YouTube are the most annoying copyright issue for web users, while one third of those questioned use VoIP services like Skype to make calls over their internet connections.
Another area of interest, which Kroes was quick to seize on to further her single market telecoms agenda, was the fact that 54 percent of households limit their national and international mobile phone calls because of concerns about cost.
"This is the smartphone era, where high-quality mobile services are an essential part of daily life. It’s not acceptable for half the population to be limiting their phone calls because of cost issues, and it’s not acceptable that the lack of a connected single market encourages those limitations,” Kroes said.
Kroes can take some solace in the fact, though, that the 2013 survey saw an 11 percent drop, from 60 percent to 49 percent, in the numbers of people worried about the cost of calls to networks other than their own domestic networks.
This suggests the EC's efforts to reduce mobile termination rates are having a positive impact, but no doubt Kroes will be keen to see her next set of proposals through to improve this for next year's report.
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