EU digital report 2019: room for improvement

Nick Wood
By Nick Wood

Jun 12, 2019

via Flickr © Wiktor Dabkowski (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Flickr © Wiktor Dabkowski (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • Ultrafast coverage reaches 60 percent but uptake is only 20 percent
  • EU's big guns put in mediocre performance when it comes to digitalisation
  • Malta, Denmark, Netherlands among those leading the way

Some EU member states are doing far better than others when it comes to digital transformation and ultrafast broadband rollout, according to Brussels's latest Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).

The index tracks progress in network deployment; adoption of digital technologies, services and skills by businesses and consumers; digitalisation of public services; and R&D.

In the field of digitalisation, gold stars were awarded this year to Finland and Denmark, where more than 10 percent of companies were found to be very highly digitised. This means they have reached at least 10 of the following 12 milestones as defined by the EU:

  • Internet access for at least 50 percent of staff
  • Recourse to ICT specialists for staff
  • At least 30-Mbps broadband
  • Equipping at least 20 percent of staff with a mobile device
  • A basic Website
  • A sophisticated Website
  • Use of social media
  • Advertising on the Internet
  • Adopting medium-to-highly sophisticated cloud computing services
  • Sending e-invoices that can be processed automatically
  • E-commerce sales accounting for at least 1 percent of turnover
  • B2C Web sales representing more than 10 percent of overall Web sales.

This particular part of the DESI is called the Digital Intensity Index (DII). The Netherlands and Sweden also rank highly, as does Malta. Languishing at the bottom of the index are Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Spain, where it was found that more than 55 percent of businesses have invested very little in digitalisation. This means they've only got a basic Website and only a few computers.

via European Commission (Jun-19)

via European Commission (Jun-19)

According to the EU, the leaders of this index have set ambitious targets in line with its own overarching Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy. Some countries you would expect to see towards the head of the class, like Germany, the UK and France, are notable for their mid-table-mediocrity.

This troubles the EU, which noted "the fact that the largest EU economies are not digital frontrunners indicates that the speed of digital transformation must accelerate, in order for the EU to stay competitive at world level."

Mixed bag

The availability and uptake of fast and ultrafast broadband across member states is a similarly mixed bag.

Across the bloc, ultrafast connectivity – defined as at least 100 Mbps – is available to 60 percent of households, which is encouraging. Less encouraging is that household uptake sits at around 20 percent. While that's a four-fold increase in 2014, it suggests that either people are getting by just fine at the moment with regular broadband and don't feel the need to go ultrafast, or that prices need to come down. Or both.

Leading the pack are Malta, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg, where at least 90 percent of households have access to ultrafast broadband. Greece props up the rest of the table, with ultrafast coverage of less than one percent.

via European Commission (Jun-19)

via European Commission (Jun-19)

Unsurprisingly, the EU's rural areas are still being left behind. The DESI report found that 13 percent of rural premises are not covered by any fixed network, and 48 percent lack any kind of next-generation access (NGA) technology offering a minimum speed of 30 Mbps.

For the full report, including more bar charts than you can shake a stick at, click here.

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