MALTA: ALL WIRED UP BUT NOWHERE TO GO

from the Malta Independent..

By Noel Grima

13 June 2013

The European Commission yesterday published its annual Digital Agenda Scoreboard.

With regards to Malta, the scoreboard shows that while Malta enjoys one of the highest availability rates of Next Generation Access, it still has a relatively low share of take-up of high speed and ultra-fast connections.

The Commission’s analysis said: Malta has a relatively low share of high speed and ultra-fast connections, but has one of the highest availability of Next Generation Access. In mobile broadband, use on computers and on smartphones remains close to the average.

In 2012, standard fixed broadband covered more than 99.95% of homes in Malta (95.5% in the EU). At the same time, Next Generation Access capable of providing at least 30 Mbps download was available to 99.9% of homes, as opposed to 53.8% in the EU.

In January 2013, the incumbent operator had a market share above the European average  (49.7% compared to 42.3% in the EU). 49.9% of all subscriptions were DSL connections (73.8% in the EU), while cable broadband connections accounted for 47% of the market (17.4% in the EU).

The take-up (subscriptions as a percentage of population) of fixed broadband was 32.6% in January 2013, 3.8 p.p. above the European average of 28.8% and 1.7 p.p. higher than in 2012. At the same period, the share of high-speed connections (at least 30 Mbps) was significantly lower than average (1.7% compared to 14.8% in the EU) and ultra-fast connections (at least 100 Mbps) accounted for less than 1% of all subscriptions (3.4% in the EU).

On the mobile side, third generation mobile broadband (HSPA) was available to 99% of population in 2012 (96.3% in the EU) and there was no fourth generation (LTE)  availability. The take-up rate (subscriptions as a percentage of population) of mobile  broadband was 35.2% in January 2013, below the average of 54.5% in the EU.

On a more general level, the Commission reported that Europeans have basic digital networks and services, but are missing out on the main current and future benefits of the digital revolution, because of problems in Europe’s telecoms and wider digital markets.

The Commission will later this year adopt proposals for concrete measures in response to a European Council request to create a Single Telecoms Market, in order to address the problems confirmed in yesterday’s data.

Neelie Kroes said: “I am glad that basic internet is now virtually everywhere in the EU, but we can’t get stuck playing yesterday’s game. The data shows that the biggest problem this year is the lack of investment in very fast networks, and a continuing lack of a real telecoms single market. The problem is clear and our response via a single telecoms market package will be too.”

Key findings in the European Commission’s Digital Agenda (DAE) Scoreboard include:

Internet progress:

Basic Broadband is now virtually everywhere in Europe – satellite performance has improved, helping to cover the 4.5% of population not covered by fixed basic broadband. The Commission is now focused on getting better take-up of satellite where this can bridge remaining gaps.

Fast broadband now reaches half the population – 54% of EU citizens have broadband available at speeds greater than 30 Mbps.

Internet access is increasingly going mobile – 36% of EU citizens access the internet via a portable computer or other mobile device (access via mobile phone is up from 7% in 2008 to 27% in 2012). Fourth generation mobile (LTE) coverage tripled to 26% in one year.

Problem areas:

Only 2% of homes have ultrafast broadband subscriptions (above 100 Mbps), far from the EU’s 2020 target of 50%.

50% EU citizens have no or low computer skills – neither the amount nor the level of ICT user skills has improved over the last year. 40% of companies recruiting or trying to recruit IT specialists have difficulties in doing so and the current number of vacancies for ICT specialists has been projected to grow to 900 000 by 2015. The recently launched Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs will target actions toward closing this gap.

Other findings:

More and more have tried internet – the proportion of EU citizens having never used the internet is continuing its steady decline (down 2 percentage points to 22%). However, around 100 million EU citizens have still never used the internet, declaring too high costs, lack of interest or lack of skills as the main barriers.

70% now use the internet regularly at least once a week, up from 67% last year; 54% of disadvantaged people use the internet regularly, up from 51% last year.

Roaming prices in 2012 have fallen by almost 5 euro cents, mainly after 1 July 2012 Roaming regulation.

eCommerce is growing steadily, but not cross-border – 45 % of individuals use the internet to buy goods and services, a moderate increase from 43% one year ago; very few buy across borders.

eGovernment is now undertaken by most firms and citizens – 87% of enterprises use eGovernment and the proportion of citizens using eGovernment has also increased over the last year to 44% (both up by 3 percentage points).

Research spending increased slightly despite budgetary restraints. Public R&D investment in ICT increased by 1.8% or €122m to €6.9bn; private R&D investment in ICT also increased, but the growth of 2.7% was not enough to recover last year’s decrease.

Link to the article and graphs:

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2013-06-13/news/all-wired-up-but-nowhere-to-go-1816199169/

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