Long-Term Evolution (LTE) coverage increased dramatically across Europe in 2013, according to a report for the European Commission compiled by IHS Technology, in cooperation with Valdani, Vicari & Associati (VVA). While there were eight countries with no LTE coverage in 2012, only Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta recorded no LTE availability at the end of 2013.
The EU average LTE coverage grew by 32.1 percentage points, increasing from 27.0% to 59.1% of households. Sweden was the leading country in terms of LTE coverage in 2013 with an extensive LTE network reaching nearly all of its households (99.2%). Nevertheless, on the whole HSPA (3G) networks remained the leading mobile broadband technology covering 97.1% of EU households.
Key findings of the report indicate that in 2013, 20.5m households gained access to next-gen broadband. By the end of the year, 62.0% of households across the EU Member States had access to high-speed broadband (at least 30Mb/s download speed), against 53.7% in 2012.
Next-Gen Access (NGA) coverage growth was particularly supported by VDSL deployments. In 2013, VDSL became the fastest growing fixed broadband technology for the second year in a row, growing six percentage points in the year to reach 31.2% of households.
LTE coverage across Europe recorded a dramatic increase of 32% in 2013, however rural areas remain a challenge in terms of broadband coverage. Rural households continue to be underserviced by fixed technologies (89.8% coverage at rural level, compared to 97.2% total EU coverage), and particularly by NGA technologies (18.1% coverage at rural level versus 62.0% of all EU households).
One of the main goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe is a universal high-speed (at least 30Mb/s) broadband coverage across the EU by 2020. According to IHS' research, challenges remain in passing this target, with rural NGA coverage continuing to be especially problematic.
Only 18.1% of EU rural homes had access to NGA broadband at the end of 2013. While this represents a considerable improvement by nearly six percentage points compared to 2012, vast amount of work remains before universal NGA coverage can be achieved.
In terms of general fixed broadband coverage, 97.2% of EU homes were passed by at least one fixed broadband technology, with DSL networks being the most spread across the study countries. Looking at the regional coverage maps, UK is the most impressive with vast majority regions being 100% covered by fixed networks.