Europeans want more mobile bandwidth, lower prices
Mobile phones are now everywhere, but only half are "smart". Subscriptions for phones that include internet access range from 55% in Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Finland, France & the Netherlands to below 35% in Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria & Portugal.
This lower penetration of smart phones is a feature in many countries where mobile Internet access subscribers limit time spent online because they are concerned about the charges - Hungary (35%), Portugal (58%), Greece (53%), Cyprus (52%), Belgium, (47%) & Romania (45%).
Worries about the cost are currently leading more than half of EU citizens to limit calls from their mobile to national (55%) and international numbers (54%). More than 70% limit their national calls in Greece (81%), Portugal (79%), Ireland (72%) and Romania (71%).
Broadband access at home is the reality for 3/4 of households: 72.5% of EU households now have a broadband connection, up from 67.3% in 2011 (Source: Eurostat). The number leapt by 20 percentage points in Romania and by 16.7 points in Slovakia, with more than 50% of households now having a broadband connection across all member states.
And the division between phone & Internet is blurring fast: 34% use the internet to make voice calls (Voice over Internet Protocol or "VOIP"), up 7 points in 2012. 28% uses the internet to talk to users on the same VOIP network for free, and 4% use VOIP to make cheaper international calls. Web-based calls are extremely popular in Bulgaria (57%), Cyprus (55%), Estonia (54%), Lithuania & Latvia (51%).
VOIP is less used in Portugal (18%), Italy, (26%), Spain (28%) & Greece (29%), but becoming more popular, with use growing by an average of 7 points since 2011. The increase in VOIP use seems to track the growth in broadband; for example, in Cyprus, there were 11% more connected households in 2012 and VOIP use grew by 16 points. ■