Newcomers on the telecoms market attribute the recent slowdown in growth of broadband in the EU to a return of monopolies in certain key countries, like Denmark, France and Finland. Also contributing to the trend, they say, is the lack of competition in Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium and Luxembourg, where the historic operators control more than 50% of broadband networks.

In a study released on 1 February (1), ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association, identifies solid growth rates in the United Kingdom and Germany (15%), Ireland (30%) and Greece (63%), but singles out stagnating rates in Denmark and Belgium (4%), as well as France (10%), in spite of their strong performances in 2005. This is very disappointing news from countries that have traditionally been at the forefront of Europe's broadband market, says ECTA's Managing Director Steen Clausen, who urges Europe to remain vigilant if it hopes to maintain its position.

The study is disputed by ETNO, the European Telecommunications Network Operators, which argues that market development also depends on criteria like geographical aspects and consumer motivations. What is more, notes ETNO, the summer period studied - the half-year period before September 2006 - could explain the slowdown.

The ECTA study highlights the broadband penetration records set by Denmark (30.3%), the Netherlands (29.8%), Finland (26%), Sweden (24.4%) and the United Kingdom (21.4%). Greece brings up the rear with 3.3%.

The sudden growth seen in Germany is due, notes...

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