Among the goals of the European Digital Compass , the EU’s digital strategy for the coming decade, is ensuring 1 gigabit per second internet access “for everyone”. Recently we discussed data dating to the second quarter of 2021 , noting how there has been a significant increase in fixed connectivity performance, albeit with significant disparities between territories.
However, connection speeds have nothing to do with “access for all”. To ascertain how accessible fast internet connections actually are, we need to look at connection costs and the citizens’ ability to afford such connections. This also relates to the United Nations’ ninth sustainable development objective , which foresees a significant increase in access to communication and information technologies, and universal access to affordable internet services in less developed countries “by 2020” (9.C).
As the chart shows, the three countries with the slowest connections (Greece, Cyprus and Croatia) have some of the highest prices in Europe. A Greek citizen in 2019 paid slightly more than a Spaniard to browse at a quarter of the speed. In Croatia, the best deal was slightly cheaper than in Denmark, for a connection 3.5 times slower.
There is no direct correlation between prices and speeds. In fact, some countries manage to have particularly low prices despite high performance. Romania, Luxembourg, France and Hungary have deals below 20 euro per month approaching 100 Mbps download speeds.
As the map below shows, the countries around the Adriatic (Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy) have the worst price/download speed ratio.
The countries with the best ratio are Romania (11 euro for 98.6 Mbps) and Lithuania (8.71 euros for 74.2 Mbps), while those that are worst off are Cyprus and Greece (both 34 euro for 21.4 and 23.4 Mbps respectively).
The picture develops further when we bring average income data (Eurostat 2019 ) to our analysis.