Swedes, Dutch, Tops in Broadband

In broadband Internet, Sweden and the Netherlands are the best EU performers. Bulgaria and Cyprus come last

Sweden and the Netherlands are the best EU performers when it comes to broadband internet, while Bulgaria and Cyprus come last, according to a report by the European Commission.

"Both countries [Sweden and the Netherlands] have a favourable socio-economic context, with a high propensity to use advanced services and a competitive environment that has ensured affordable prices and high speeds," says the commission in its paper on broadband performance in the EU member states.

To measure that performance, Brussels is using a so-called Broadband Performance Index (BPI) based on a series of factors, including speed, rural coverage, affordability, innovation, as well as socio-economic dimensions.

Denmark, the UK, France and non-EU member Norway follow Sweden and The Netherlands, while Poland, Romania, Cyprus and Bulgaria come last.

"Their performance is limited in most dimensions by the socio-economic context and by high prices" in some of the countries, reads the paper.

Poor competition, lack of digital skills and limited PC penetration are among the other cited factors.

On average, some 36 percent of EU households currently enjoy high-speed internet access, although the figures vary widely among the member states.

The commission's aim is "to make broadband Internet for all Europeans happen by 2010," EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding stated last week.

Brussels also believes Europe could take the lead in the next internet generation - or Web 3.0 - as it is "already well placed to exploit [the] broadband opportunities, thanks to an open and competitive environment for investments."

"Web 3.0 means seamless 'anytime, anywhere' business, entertainment and social networking over fast reliable and secure networks & Europe has the know-how and the network capacity to lead this transformation," Ms Reding said.

"We must make sure that Web 3.0 is made and used in Europe," she added.

The commission launched a public consultation on Monday (29 September) on its strategy "to respond to the next wave of the Information Revolution" and on the private sector's possible responses to the developing situation.