Commissioner Kroes blesses satellite broadband

October 21, 2013 10.27 Europe/London By Robert Briel

Every EU household can now have a basic broadband connection, thanks to pan-EU availability of satellite broadband.
Satellite connections are now available in all 28 countries meaning every European can take out a satellite subscription, including the three million people not already covered by fixed and mobile broadband networks.
Neelie Kroes, VP, European Commission, welcomed the milestone achievement of one of the main goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe: “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. That’s a great result for European citizens.”
By the end of 2012, 99.4% of EU household had access to basic fixed or mobile broadband coverage; including 96.1% of households in rural areas. But the final 0.6% (or roughly 3 million citizens) included many families and businesses in isolated or rural areas where fixed or mobile broadband rollout is more cumbersome and expensive.
Kroes says: “The EU is technology neutral, but for those in the most isolated areas, satellite is a good option to stay connected; and it’s likely to remain so.”
Many Europeans don’t realise satellite broadband is an option for them. That is why Neelie Kroes launched a service developed by the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) to enables citizens to check quickly their satellite broadband options.
There are 148 satellites providing services to Europeans. Basic packages start from €10 per month, with 20Mbps packages from €25 per month, with average prices for satellite dishes being €350 (can be cheaper if a premium subscription is taken out).
However, Kroes warned that basic broadband is not enough, and that faster broadband speeds were essential to deliver a truly Connected Continent:
“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.”
“Access to reliable and affordable higher broadband speeds of 30Mbps and 50 Mbps are essential for Europe’s economic development and for the next generation of digital products and services like Connected Television, eHealth, Cloud Computing and Connected Cars,”