B'band rates run gamut across EU


BRUSSELS -- Nearly half, or 42%, of all European Union households have broadband Internet access, with national rates ranging from 19% in Bulgaria to 83% in the Netherlands.

Those figures, released Monday by EU statistical agency Eurostat, reveal that 54% of households in the EU's 27 member countries have access to the Internet, compared with 49% a year ago, while broadband connections had risen to 42% from 30% in just a year.

The highest levels of Internet access were recorded in the Netherlands (83%), Sweden (79%) and Denmark (78%), with levels just a fraction of that in Bulgaria (19%), Romania (22%) and Greece (25%).

The proportion of households with a broadband connection in 2007 also was highest in the Netherlands (74%), Denmark (70%) and Sweden (67%).

The figures show that 13% of users have engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing of movies and music. The rates ranged from 6% in the Czech Republic and Ireland to 24% in Lithuania and the Netherlands.

Slightly more than one quarter had downloaded and installed software from the Internet; about one quarter of individuals had taken part in chatrooms, newsgroups or online discussions; 15% had used the Internet to make phone calls; and one-tenth had created a Web page.