EU ranks the UK 7th for its digital performance

EU ranks the UK 7th for its digital performance

The European Commission published last week its annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), ranking EU countries according to their performance in areas such as connectivity, digital skills, use of the internet by citizens, the digitisation of businesses, and digital public services. The UK moved from 6th place to 7th this year behind Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Although the UK progressed well in terms of coverage and take-up of superfast broadband connections, other countries have moved faster, encouraging their citizens and businesses to use internet services made available to them.

DESI 2017

The report found that compared to other EU countries, UK citizens and businesses still don’t make the most of the internet. The number of users of social media, Cloud and eCommerce is still high and the UK remains a nation of online shoppers. However, as the BSG found in previous studies, the use of online tools by businesses (eInvoices; electronic Information Sharing) remains low and UK citizens’ use of eGovernment tools place the UK amongst the lowest performers in Europe. The UK Government’s Digital Strategy will hopefully help to address these issues with a number of initiatives designed to encourage businesses and citizens to go online and make the most of the benefits that digital connectivity brings.

Whilst the UK made good progress towards in the deployment of Next Generation Access (NGA) networks and take-up, the Netherlands and Belgium outperformed all other EU countries in this respect. According to data collected in June 2016, 81% of those who have access to a superfast connection (30Mbit/s) in Belgium have taken up the service, compared to 43% in the UK. NGA coverage in Belgium is almost universal with 99% of households covered compared to 92% in the UK. Promoting take-up of superfast services should be seen as a priority in the UK, as coverage has now reached 89% of premises (Ofcom’s Connected Nations report 2016). The BSG will continue to undertake work in this area to understand the drivers of demand and use of superfast connections.

The DESI is a useful tool for Member States to identify areas where priority areas of investment and intervention. It doesn’t however reflect the full picture of digital connectivity performance across the EU, as parameters such as geographical topology, population density and legacy networks are not considered. Ofcom’s European Broadband Scorecard, compares the UK to other 5 comparable EU countries on the basis of these parameters, and ranks the UK as a high performer in the delivery, take-up and usage broadband services in Europe. At global level, Huawei Global connectivity Index ranks the UK 5th out of 50 countries, behind the US, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland for its network coverage as well as its investment in IoT and smart technologies which boost efforts to develop a more efficient society and placing the country as a global digital leader.