Government policy on the development of the electronic communications market, including next generation broadband services, is set out in "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", which I published in June 2009. The policy paper was developed in accordance with various key principles, which are crucial to the development of the market including: competition, at platform and service levels, which drives innovation and investment; investment certainty for service providers considering investing in network infrastructure; investment intervention by Government to bridge any digital divide in cases of market failure and to meet the State's own communication needs; and also appropriate regulation.
This policy has facilitated significant progress in rolling out broadband services, including increased speeds, over recent years. For example, at the end of June 2010, Ireland had in the region of 1.48 million broadband subscriptions. The year-on-year growth in subscriptions over the preceding 12 month period was over 16.5%. Internationally, Ireland ranks 11th of the EU 27 for per capita broadband penetration in composite fixed and mobile services, fourth for mobile only penetration, and 14th for fixed broadband penetration.
This progress, measured in international comparisons, is also demonstrated in a recent study of broadband services in 72 countries by the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo, Spain, which ranks Ireland 13th of the 72 countries studied, ahead of France, Canada, the United States and the UK. The study considered broadband quality, that is, download speeds, upload speeds, and latency, and broadband penetration to map the world's broadband leaders. Ireland is also grouped among the top ten broadband movers since 2009 with 88% broadband penetration, or 11% increase on the previous year.
More generally, of the homes with broadband connections, 77.8% of them and 85.8% of small businesses are using broadband speeds between 2 Mbps and 10 Mbps. UPC is providing speeds of up to 30 Mbps and is rolling out speeds of up to 100 Mbps under the new DOCSIS 3 platform. Eircom and the Vodafone/BT alliance are both rolling out speeds of up to 24 Mbps using vDSL technology. In the wireless market, Imagine have launched WiMAX, a broadband product with speeds of up to 8 Mbps available. In addition, Eircom has recently launched an Ethernet product offering speeds of up to and exceeding 1 Gbps to wholesale customers and to high-bandwidth users.
The next generation broadband policy paper also proposed the establishment of a next generation broadband taskforce comprising industry, Government and ComReg. The task force can facilitate a collaborative approach to investment in the development of high speed and high quality broadband in Ireland to meet the demands of Ireland's smart economy by enabling wider customer access to next generation networks. I signalled earlier this month that I now propose to establish the taskforce and the first meeting of the taskforce will be held shortly.
A number of important national and EU developments have come to pass since the next generation broadband policy paper was published. These developments will underpin and inform the work of the task force. They include greater clarity from the EU Commission on the regulation of next generation access; revised guidelines from the EU Commission on state aid for broadband; an outline radio spectrum policy programme from the EU Commission; and completion of the roll-out of the national broadband scheme. These developments provide greater long-term clarity to investors on the regulatory rules which will apply to next generation networks.
I am confident that the clarity provided by the EU Commission on the long-term regulatory environment for investments in next generation networks will enable our task force to explore investor co-operation in the market in Ireland to deliver an efficient next generation access network.