The European Union wants gigabit-capable broadband for all its citizens by 2030. This is part of its goals for the 2030 Digital Decade programme. But what trajectory are we currently on?
To answer this question, we looked at broadband coverage between 2011 and 2021 and developed a model to forecast rollout of gigabit-capable fixed broadband to 2030. With ‘gigabit-capable’ we mean FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) and DOCSIS 3.1 (cable) – the EC refers to these together as ‘Very High Capacity Networks (VHCNs)’. Based on our model, between 6.3% to 14.0% of the total population (33 and 71 million people based on 2021 populations) in Europe are projected to be without access to gigabit-capable technologies by 2030.
Model Results: Scenario 1 is based on our measure of 'National Ambition' and local land use; Scenario 2 includes additional measures of country-by-country digital readiness; Scenario 3 forecasts existing VHCN coverage without additional inputs
Our model uses a Gompertz function, a type of logistic growth function well-suited to forecasting the adoption of new technologies in societies, to forecast regional growth across Europe based on our time series of broadband coverage in the past (2011-2021) and local factors. This way, our model results are independent of announcements, goals and investment targets made across European countries, but simply a combination of past performance and current indicators of digitalisation and progress. We also run a scenario (Scenario 3) without any indicators or additional inputs, where we simply fit the curve and project.
We also use the European Kilometre Grid (EKG) which we developed specifically for calculations at a more granular level. This allows us to make our predictions more realistic and also create maps with much more detail:
Outputs at European Kilometre Grid level: Classifying Grid Cells by Attractivity to the Satellite Industry
Should these predictions come to be, a significant number of people in Europe will not have access to high-speed broadband (which is now considered a core utility) by 2030, and will have to look elsewhere to get connected. However, we are currently experiencing the launch of a dramatic number of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which will make up large and complex constellations led by Starlink and OneWeb (more competitors are in the planning phase), which may be able to provide services to just this group of people.
There are many uses for satellite communications across Europe today. From familiar services like TV and GPS, providing secure communications, phone calls to people in remote locations, to even supporting fighters in Ukraine. Residential broadband is another key service as well as an important revenue stream, where satellite has so far played a niche but important role. LEO constellations may change this, as their satellites are smaller and cheaper allowing more of them to be put into space, as well as offering lower latency and faster speeds due to being closer to Earth.
So what does that all mean for the Digital Decade?
If the European Union is in danger of missing one of their main Digital Decade goals due to the limitations of fixed broadband roll-out, there is need to act. But the EC may already be aware of all of this, as they have announced the launch of their own network LEO satellite constellation programme IRIS2 by 2027, just in time before the Digital Decade goals are to be achieved. With satellite playing a role in helping achiev previous rounds of targets, including the Digital Agenda 2013 (basic broadband for all) and Europe 2020 (30Mbps for all), it might do so again. So, space might be able to help Europe meet its targets once again.
Here at Expert Intelligence, we remain committed to analysing communications analytics and providing data-driven insights to help shape the future of broadband connectivity, including the work towards achieving the European Union's Digital Decade goals and fostering a connected Europe.
If you want to know more about our forecasts, including a free sample or mapping output of the results, contact us now.