EU Broadband Definition - Does the European Union have a Standard?


The European Union does not currently employ a specific, standardised minimum definition for broadband speeds.

The de facto broadband definition in the EU was set at 30 Mbps by the DAE and recently raised to a de facto 100 by the European Commission.[1]

In 2016, the European Commission announced it was aiming for all households to have access to a minimum of 100 Mbps+, with businesses and the public sector being promised gigabit speeds. The goal is 100% residential coverage by 2025.

What is a broadband standard?

In many places around the world, a broadband standard serves as the minimum acceptable level of network performance that providers operating within a government’s border must provide.

Whether a speed-based national standard is an effective means of improving connectivity is up for debate, but nonetheless many developed nations (like the US) conform to this model for measuring broadband deployment efforts.

EU Vs UK Broadband Definitions

Unlike the EU, the United Kingdom does have several specific definitions for broadband services. These include the following:

“Acceptable” broadband speed - 10 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload
“Superfast” broadband speed - 24 Mbps download (30 Mbps download according to Ofcom)
“Ultrafast” broadband speed - 300+ Mbps download [2]

EU Vs US Broadband Definitions

The United States currently employs a federal minimum broadband standard of 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload. This standard was implemented in 2015.[3]

While the EU doesn’t have specific upload speed thresholds, it does have a target of 30 Mbps download speeds for all citizens.

EU 2025 Connectivity goals

In 2016, the European Commission published an updated broadband agenda, targeting an ambitious goal of 100% connectivity at the 100 Mbps download level to every European household by 2025.[4]

Additionally, the new plan calls for the following:

History of European Broadband Standards

Broadband goals have historically been laid out by the Digital Agenda for Europe, the first of which was published in 2010.

2010 Digital Agenda Goal: (> 144 Kbps) to all Europeans by 2013 and ensuring coverage of all Europeans with fast broadband (> 30 Mbps) by 2020 as well as at least a 50% take-up of ultrafast broadband (> 100 Mbps) by 2020.

2021 Digital Agenda Goal: Universal 100 Mbps to every household by 2025

EU Broadband Funding – The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF)

The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund is one of the primary funding initiatives in the European Union dedicated to broadband proliferation. Investors in the fund include the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Commission, and National Promotional Banks from France (Caisse des Dépôts), Germany (KfW), and Italy (Cassa depositi e prestiti).

All EU member states are eligible to receive funding, as well as Iceland and Norway. As of Fall 2020, the fund had raised EUR 470 million, just shy of its initial goal of 500 million by the end of that year.[5]

According to the European Commision, projects eligible for funding “should make a significant contribution to the achievement of the targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), which means, at the minimum, to support the connectivity necessary to achieve the DAE Target 2 (30 Mbps) and/or Target 3 (100 Mpbs)”. Additionally, funding priority is being given to projects that “facilitate the transition towards a European Gigabit Society by the deployment of networks upgradable to 1 Gigabit as well as to projects based on wholesale-only models”.

CEBF Projects Status Update

As of late 2020, the fund had processed a total of five transactions for new broadband projects in member states. Ten projects are currently in the final stages of approval, and a further 14 are “under consideration”.[6]



Author: Tyler Cooper

Last Reviewed By: Tyler Cooper

Published: 11 Jan 2022

Last Updated: 11 Jan 2022