The European Commission (EC) has said everyone in Europe can now theoretically access a basic broadband connection thanks to the availability of satellite broadband in all 28 member states. This means everyone will be able to achieve a connection of around 2Mbps or more, but given the cost of satellite broadband, this may not be feasible for all.
It said that 96.1 percent of people on the continent can now access fixed internet and mobile coverage reaches 99.4 percent of people. Satellite broadband, offered by a range of providers across Europe, now reaches 100 percent of people in the EU.
EC vice president for the digital agenda Neelie Kroes said it was a landmark moment for Europe and would help boost the region’s productivity and prosperity.
“Now every European genuinely has the opportunity. We have more to do to improve networks and equalise the opportunity, but the opportunity is there,” she said.
“Thanks to the extra coverage provided by satellite broadband, we have achieved our 2013 target of broadband for all. That's a great result for European citizens. For those in the most isolated areas, satellite is a good option to stay connected; and it's likely to remain so."
To help all citizens find out what broadband options from satellite connections are available to them the Commission has launched a new website that allows people to find services they could use to get online.
The UK is technically classed as having 100 percent coverage thanks to a raft of satellite providers. Pricing varies but it is generally around £30 a month for connection speeds of around 20Mbps.
Although the EC said it was pleased with reaching its target it said the goal must be to get high-speed connections to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
“Europe needs lightning-speed connectivity. We cannot leave some companies and citizens behind. Now we have basic broadband achieved, we have to immediately focus on investing in new, fast networks,” said Kroes.
“Access to reliable and affordable higher broadband speeds of 30Mbps and 50Mbps is essential for Europe's economic development and for the next generation of digital products and services like connected television, e-health, cloud computing and connected cars.”
The announcement comes as the UK rushes to try and improve its broadband coverage by providing speeds of at least 25Mbps for 90 percent of citizens by 2015, a goal that looks highly unlikely to be met.
However, progress is being made as rollouts in remote regions and the use of mobile 4G services help to bring faster connections to more people than ever before. For those still without 4G, the EC will be hoping satellite proves enough for their needs until fixed and mobile networks come along.
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