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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Speiser

European Broadband Operators and Tariffs Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

Updated: 7 days ago

1. Introduction

Point Topic tracks the quarterly changes in the standalone and bundled broadband tariffs provided by European[1]  fixed-line residential and business operators. This report presents the latest tariff benchmarks at the end of March 2024. To put them into perspective, we are comparing the trends to December 2023.


The complete tariff data is available within Point Topic’s European Broadband Operators and Tariffs (EuroBOT) subscription service. We provide access to the raw data, as well as charts and tables for the tariffs offered. For the full methodology, see the Appendix.



2. What we measure

The tariff database covers all major fixed broadband operators across the EU, UK, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. In total, we track more than 200 operators from 31 countries.


Standalone and bundled

We report tariffs where broadband is offered as the only service (standalone) and tariffs where broadband is offered with other services such as TV and telephony (bundled).


Residential and business

We report both business and residential broadband tariffs.


Technologies

Within this report, we look at differences between the three major fixed broadband technologies – copper, cable and fibre. The full tariff database also includes some wireless and mobile broadband tariffs.


Changes to reporting

  • We have excluded all tariffs which report a monthly subscription charge higher than $5,000 PPP (purchasing power parity) or which report no monthly subscription charge.

  • We have excluded all VDSL tariffs from the DSL category and included them in the fibre category instead.

These changes do not affect the full tariff database but only this analysis. For more details on methodology see the Appendix at the end of the article.

 

3. Europe-wide tariffs and bandwidths

We have compared the average subscription charges and corresponding bandwidths for different broadband technologies across Europe. All prices are quoted in US dollars at PPP (purchasing power parity) rates to allow easier comparison.

 

3.1 Residential broadband packages

As of the end of March 2024, copper-based residential broadband tariffs were the cheapest ($55 PPP) but they also offered the lowest average download speed at 17 Mbps. Compared to Q4 2023, the average subscription over copper increased by 7.5%, while the speed went up by 3.9%, though compared to other technologies it was still low. The average monthly tariffs for cable and fibre reached near parity at the close of 2023 ($64.67 PPP and $64.65 PPP respectively), however, both technologies have increased during the quarter with cable becoming the most expensive on offer at $71.83 PPP and fibre coming in at $70.54 PPP. 


Fibre-based tariffs offered a higher average download speed at 595 Mbps, compared to 552 Mbps over cable.  At the close of Q1 2024, the average tariffs based on these technologies increased by 9.1% and 11.1% respectively, while the average download speeds went up by 10.3% for cable but decreased 1.1% for fibre.  The decrease in fibre speeds was due to more tariffs being offered via fibre technology, however, more varied speed tiers were available ranging from 300 Mbps to 600 Mbps.


In Q1 2024, the average downstream bandwidth in Europe, regardless of technology, was 537 Mbps, down 1.4% from 544 Mbps in the previous quarter. As FTTP and Docsis3.1 availability across Europe is becoming more widespread, we recorded 262 residential gigabit tariffs (with downstream bandwidth of at least 900 Mbps) in Q1 2024, though this number was very slightly up from 260 such tariffs in Q4 2023. 


Figure 1 below provides a comparative overview of average speed and monthly cost by technology for Q4 2023 and Q1 2024.


In the three months to the end of Q4 2023, the combined average cost per Mbps on broadband packages provided over the three technologies fell further, from $0.15 to $0.12 PPP. The drop was caused by a decrease in the average cost per Mbps over fibre, cable and especially copper (Figure 2).  In terms of the cost per Mbps, copper remains by far the most expensive technology at $3.13 PPP, but this metric went down by 19.3% since Q2 2023. We recorded only 77 copper-based residential broadband tariffs this quarter, down from 81 in Q2 2023. In comparison, we tracked 137 cable broadband tariffs and 847 fibre broadband tariffs in Q4 2023.



3.2 Business broadband packages

We recorded the largest change in the average business tariff for copper – during the quarter the average monthly charge for this technology increased by 17% going from $69.25 PPP to $80.96 PPP.  In the same period, the average copper-based download speed decreased by 9%, going from 26 Mbps to 24 Mbps.  Nevertheless, it appears that, like in the residential market, providers still offering copper-based broadband are doing so, but with an eye on phasing the technology out and migrating subscribers from legacy services to more widely available cable or fibre-based technologies.


Operators have streamlined their business fibre broadband offerings during the quarter as we recorded 607 tariffs in Q1 2024 compared to 700 in the previous quarter.  As the available tariffs on offer have decreased so has the average download speed for businesses using fibre-based connections.  In Q1 the average fibre-based tariff download speed reached 760 Mbps down from 994 Mbps, equating to a 24% decrease in speed as operators again opt for sub-1 Gbps offerings.  At the same time, the average monthly subscription for these services has increased by 16% to reach a monthly average cost of $167.45 PPP.


Cable broadband tariffs increased during the quarter by 13.4% on average while the average bandwidth went up by 5.4%.


Between Q4 2023 and Q1 2024, the combined average download speed decreased by 29.3% and stood at 651 Mbps, which again was due to fewer tariffs being offered along with fewer >1 Gbps tiers being available (Figure 2).

 



4. Regional tariffs and bandwidths

In this section, we compare the average tariffs and bandwidths in Eastern and Western Europe. All prices are quoted in international US dollars at PPP rates to allow direct comparison between regions.


4.1 Residential broadband packages

At the regional level, we found similar average download speed and average monthly subscription in Eastern Europe and Western Europe. However, there were significantly more tariffs on offer in Western European countries (886 in total) compared to Eastern Europe (220 in total).  The average monthly subscription cost for Western Europe was $69.93 PPP  compared to $67.42 PPP in the eastern region.  The average download speed was slightly higher in Eastern Europe – 539 Mbps compared to 529 Mbps in Western Europe. During the quarter, Eastern Europe saw a slight decrease in the average speed (-0.8%).  In Western Europe, the average bandwidth also decreased by -1.1%.  In the same period, the average subscription increased in the more saturated markets of Western Europe (9.1%) compared to 5.1% in Eastern Europe (Figure 3). In the previous quarter, the two regions were at near parity at $64 PPP for monthly subscription costs, but Eastern Europe still outperformed in terms of speed at 543 Mbps compared to Western Europe’s 535 Mbps demonstrating that the challenging economic conditions faced by the operators are being passed along to consumers.




At a country level, the countries at the top end of GDP per capita remain at the top of the league by average bandwidth (Table 1). However, Bulgaria, Croatia and Portugal have also made the rankings this quarter as their operators introduced higher speed tariffs.  


Country

Average Downstream Speed, Mbps

Switzerland

3120

Iceland

2044

Italy

1689

France

903

Bulgaria

857

Croatia

838

Romania

806

Finland

802

Poland

743

Portugal

704

Table 1. Top ten countries by average speed, residential broadband, Q1 2024. Source: Point Topic.




4.2 Business broadband packages 

Similar to the residential market, regional business tariffs increased along with the average download speeds slowing down due to fewer offerings and more expensive inflationary-linked price rises (Figure 4). In Q4 2023, there were 889 business tariffs tracked (129 in Eastern Europe and 760 in Western Europe) compared to 777 (131 in Eastern Europe and 646 in Western Europe) in Q1 2024.   Taking the challenging market conditions and reduction of tariffs on offer both regions saw an increase in the average monthly subscription  (7.9% in Eastern Europe, 18.6% in Western Europe), while the average download speed saw little growth in Eastern Europe (0.5%) with Western Europe seeing a -30.2% decrease to reach 651 Mbps at the close of Q1 2024 down from 932 Mbps in the previous quarter.



 


5. Country rankings - entry level, median or average?

In this section, we look at the average monthly tariff for residential broadband services. The average tariffs include copper, cable and fibre broadband services, and cover both standalone and bundled services.


All tariffs are quoted in international US dollars at PPP rates to allow comparisons between countries.

 

5.1 Entry level, median or average?

We are using the three most common comparison aggregations:


  • The entry level tariff – typically ignores variations in bandwidth caps, time charging, actual bandwidth offered and overall availability of a tariff in the market.  Best used to indicate the conditions at the low end of the market and best comparator if you are looking at the market penetration for broadband overall or a particular technology.

  • The median tariff – the value in the middle of the count of all values in the set.  It can be skewed by unbalanced reporting or data gathering.  Useful as a general indication of the country market and for inter market comparisons.

  • The average tariff – doesn’t represent an amount anyone actually pays, skewed by extremes in price.  The best single number for comparing whole country markets when you want to understand the range of options for the consumer.

There is a difference in the relative country performance depending on which metric is used and the variation can be significant.

 



The above chart (Figure 5) highlights some of the issues we have outlined above.


The relatively small spreads in Denmark, France, Czech Republic and Greece suggest that it is relatively easy to get more bandwidth, at least in terms of cost, however the entry level costs remain quite high in France, Denmark and Greece.  Belgium is the most expensive market, with the average and median costs especially high. However, it has a large number of gigabit tariffs, especially those based on Docsis3.1.

 

 

6. Country ranking tables

Ranking countries using the average cost of broadband subscriptions is a straightforward idea but the variation in entry level versus median and average costs can be significant. To help provide an easy way of comparing directly we have taken the PPP data on the entry level, median and average tariffs, produced rankings and then compared the variance (Table 2).


We have included a ‘variance’ column to indicate how different ranks for the different metrics are spread.  So we see that, for example, the wide-spread in Bulgaria, Denmark, and Sweden (big differences in entry level, average and median tariffs) is represented by high variance of the rankings.  At the other end of the scale countries such as Romania, Norway or Luxembourg rank rather consistently. 


However, it should be noted that this is only one set of metrics measuring one aspect of the broadband markets so conclusions should not be drawn in isolation. 

 


Table 2. Country ranking by median residential broadband tariffs, Q1 2024. Source: Point Topic.


 

APPENDIX: Notes on Methodology

The latest dataset of tariffs is available to the subscribers of European Broadband Operators and Tariffs service, and they can conduct their own analysis using this data. If you have any questions, please contact us on isabelle.anderson@point-topic.com.


The tariff dataset is updated every six months and it contains multiple fields, such as services included (to reflect bundling with broadband, e.g. video, VoIP, etc), monthly subscription, activation and installation charges, downstream and upstream speeds, equipment costs, length of contract, service features, and special offers.


The PPP rates used in this analysis are published annually by the World Bank and are readily available to the public free of charge. Some retrospective adjustments to PPP rates were made during the period 2000–2010. We updated all PPP rates during this period accordingly.


Price comparison issues

This analysis is intended as a general indicator of the trends in pricing in European broadband markets. There are several additional variables that complicate the process of making a direct comparison of broadband prices. These need to be taken into account when making a more in-depth analysis:


  • Some operators do not report speeds and / or prices for certain tariffs. This is especially common for business broadband. Entries which do not have both a downstream speed and a monthly rental listed have been excluded from this analysis.

  • ISPs are increasingly focusing on bundling value-added services in order to increase revenue. We started recording bundled services in Q1 2007. When analysing broadband pricing in this report, we include both standalone and bundled broadband services, which can skew the comparison. However, standalone broadband tariffs still constitute two thirds of all tariffs included in this analysis.

  • Some operators offer entry level services with data volume limits. In most cases, these limits are generous enough so as not to affect light or medium users. Point Topic includes this type of service as a reasonable entry level service, since it does not involve adding a usage charge to the monthly cost for the typical user.

The full data set used for this report can be accessed by purchasing our EuroBOT product.


[1] Until Q4 2022, we tracked tariffs in countries across all continents on a biannual basis (every second quarter).  From Q2 2023, we have pared down our global tariff reporting to include 31 countries in Europe, with regional focuses on Eastern and Western Europe and will be updating the European tariff benchmark report on a quarterly basis.

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