Next time you consider visiting Europe, you might want to take into account something unrelated to sightseeing: Internet speeds. In certain areas, it'll be much harder to upload your favorite vacation photos to Facebook or navigate Google Maps.
Fixed broadband coverage varies widely, and you could encounter some unpleasant surprises if you travel around. Few people in France and Italy, for instance, have fast Internet, at least in comparison to many other countries.
Meanwhile, many homes in some Baltic nations, Northern Ireland as well as the Netherlands and Belgium have access to high-speed broadband.
"The differences between the individual European countries reflect the very different strategies adopted by network operators in each country," said Alzbeta Fellenbaum, an analyst with the market research provider IHS Technology in London. "In Italy and in Greece, the reason for lack of high-speed broadband is mainly the absence of cable operators."
"In France, the national strategy has traditionally been focused on deployment of FTTP networks," Fellenbaum said, referring to a particularly fast fiber broadband. "However, due to the high costs of fiber optic deployment all the way to the customers’ homes, deployment has not been progressing as fast as in other European countries."
Nordic states in particular are leading the way in Europe because they started building their broadband infrastructures much earlier than other nations. "I would also say that in countries such as Norway or Sweden, high-speed broadband has now become a commodity that is required by consumers, and people generally see having high-speed broadband line installed in their house as an added value that increases the value of their property," Fellenbaum explained.
The slower Internet speed in certain areas of Europe might not even be noticed by some visiting Americans. Broadband coverage also varies widely in the United States. Overall, American broadband coverage is lagging behind even more than in Europe.
The striking differences in Internet speeds do not only apply to broadband at home: You might have similar experiences observations on your smartphone.
Again, Nordic countries, as well as some smaller nations including Belgium and the Luxembourg have particularly strong service. In the Netherlands, LTE (currently the fastest mobile Internet speed) is accessible all over the country.
In Bulgaria, however, only 36 percent of the country have LTE mobile Internet speed. France, Italy and many eastern European countries are also lagging behind the European Union's average of 79 percent LTE coverage.