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The number of UK premises signing up to next generation broadband is continuing to rise, but ultrafast connections are still rare, according to new figures from the European Commission.

In its report on the current state of internet connectivity across the continent in terms of both price and speed, the EC reveals that nearly one in five fixed broadband subscribers now have superfast broadband over 30Mb.

Despite this, ultrafast connections of over 100Mb are still rare, with penetration standing at just 1.2 per cent across the continent, and lower still (0.4 per cent) in the UK.

On the whole, the countries with greater Next Generation Access (NGA) coverage and availability have higher take-up, with Belgium comfortably leading the pack, though the UK is beginning to accelerate.

One key observation of the report was that cable lines, such as those used by Virgin Media in the UK, are the most widely used NGA technology in Europe, with more than 50 per cent of NGA subscriptions using this delivery method and 90 per cent of European cable networks supporting it.

In contrast, the report says that "much weaker progress" has been observed regarding VDSL, such as BT's FTTC offering, which still only represents five per cent of all xDSL connections, despite subscriptions increasing by 86 per cent in the last 12 months.

In the UK specifically, VDSL/FTTC coverage is superior to cable and covers around two-thirds of the country, but uptake is slower  - largely due to Virgin Media upgrading its existing platform for all customers and boosting growth considerably.

Overall, there were 29.4 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the EU, which corresponds to household penetration of around 76 per cent.

The highest fixed line penetration rates are still seen in Denmark (40.4 per cent), the Netherlands (40.4 per cent), France (37.3 per cent) and Germany (34.6 per cent), though the UK is catching up, with 33.3 per cent penetration, which exceeds the EU average of  29.4 per cent.

The data itself was recorded up to and including July 2013, so penetration rates, subscribers and access will all now be higher than the EC figures.

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