Inspire Policy Making by Territorial Evidence
  • Territorial Dynamics in Europe: Trends in Internet Roll-out

    TO4 v07_Page_01May 2011 - ESPON Territorial Observations aim at providing policy makers and practitioners short and concise information on territorial dynamics. The fourth volume focuses on territorial trends related to the Internet and its roll-out in Europe. The intention is to provide policy makers and practitioners at all geographical levels engaged in the development of their territories with short and concise information.

    Among the main conclusions, there are the following key points for policy consideration:

    ►The European Union is still among the world leaders of Internet usage, but main parts of Asia, Russia and Africa are catching up. In order to increase growth and keep the competitive advantage at world level, the roll-out of high-speed Internet connection for all citizens should be a priority in all parts of the European territory.

    ►A widespread and rapid increase in Internet usage is occurring across European regions. Europe’s highest levels of Internet usage are found in the Nordic countries, in the Netherlands, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Luxembourg, Southern England and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

    ►A small group of regions in South-Eastern Europe, including regions in Greece, Bulgaria and, particularly Romania, however, seems not to share in the rise in Internet usage, indicating a need for targeted policy stimuli. While most of the remaining parts of Southern and Eastern Europe experience a moderate expansion, the development in Central Europe is somewhat higher.

    ►The territorial pattern of Internet infrastructures is dominated by the major European cities London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, which also perform important roles in the global digital network. Other highly significant centres, including Madrid, Milan, Stockholm and Vienna, perform more specialised gateway roles at regional level. In addition, cities from all parts of Europe are catching up, including cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Palermo, Athens, Budapest, Warsaw, Tallinn, Helsinki, Hamburg and Dublin.

    ►The provision of Internet infrastructure, in particular the international Internet backbone capacity which enables Internet traffic between the countries and across the continents, is very concentrated to the central part of Europe. However, these Internet facilities are also used by all other regions throughout Europe. The main challenge at regional level concerns the linkages available for local enterprises and citizens to the Internet infrastructure, in particular via high-speed Internet.

    ►Specific types of regions as mentioned in the Lisbon treaty, often with limited accessibility, appear to have a lower level of Internet infrastructure than more urbanised parts of the EU. However, over the last 3 years most of the European regions, irrespective if they are metropolitan, urban, rural, mountainous, coastal, border or sparsely populated, have experienced an expansion of their Internet infrastructure.

    ►These specific types of regions have experienced, just like all regions across Europe, a rapid growth of households using high-speed Internet connections. A notable feature of the diffusion of the digital networks and Internet usage in Europe is the fact that a high level of GDP per capita does not seem to be a prerequisite for taking part in this development.

    ►To achieve the objectives of the digital flagship of the Europe 2020 Strategy concerning highspeed Internet roll-out set for 2013 and 2020, some specific type of regions might nevertheless require policy attention and additional investments. Enhanced roll-out of high-speed Internet in these regions may produce long-term benefits by stimulating economic growth based on intensive usage of Internet communication among enterprises, and by increasing the Internet provision of welfare services, such as distance learning and telemedicine. This would most certainly support a territorially balanced regional distribution of Internet usage in Europe.

    ESPON Territorial Observation No. 4 on Trends in Internet Roll-out, including maps and figures, is available below. Data used for the maps in this publication can be found in the ESPON Database.

    Printed copies of “Territorial Observations” series are available.

    Should you have questions please do not hesitate to contact the ESPON Coordination Unit at


    Name Type Size
    Territorial Dynamics in Europe: Trends in Internet Roll-out May 2011 PDF 3.92 MB
    Map 1 Internet Users, 1999-2009 PDF 307.43 KB
    Map 2 Internet Users, growth rate PDF 147.85 KB
    Map 3 IP addresses, 2009 PDF 519.83 KB
    Map 4 Internet backbone capacity in Europe, 2001 to 2008 PDF 780.17 KB
    Map 5 Internet backbone capacity in Europe, 2008 PDF 791.85 KB
    Map 6 Households using a high-speed Internet connection, 2006 to 2009 PDF 446.06 KB
    Figures 1-2 Figure 1 Internet infrastructure: European regions with high relative scores (above 15%). Figure 2 Internet usage, change from 2006 to 2009 PDF 164.36 KB
    Figures 3-4 Figure 3 IP addresses in different types of urban-rural regions. Figure 4 IP addresses in different types of metropolitan regions PDF 121.35 KB
    Figures 5-7 Figure 5 IP addresses in different types of mountainous regions. Figure 6 IP addresses in different types of coastal regions. Figure 7 IP addresses in border regions and sparsely populated regions PDF 123.32 KB