Nearly 30% of broadband users in Europe have slow connections, says a report.
What users can do online depends on their connection
Analysts Jupiter Research said there was a great disparity between the quality of service different people are experiencing.
More than a quarter have opted for cheap products which offer connections slower than 512 kilobits per second, or for packages that charge per minute.
But some Europeans are enjoying super-fast connections that offer vastly different online experiences.
While those with high-quality connections can take advantage of broadband telephony and video services, the options are more limited for those that have opted for slower connections.
Europe is experiencing excellent broadband growth, said Jupiter, but that does not mean that everyone is enjoying the same standard of product the report points out.
13% of European broadband households in 2003
By 2009 set to rise to 37%
14% of Greek households will have broadband in 2009
47% of Dutch households will have mid or high-tier broadband by 2009
40% of UK households will have broadband by 2009
"Across Europe broadband is evolving at markedly different rates, speeds and prices," said report author Ian Fogg.
"It will lead to a kind of digital patchwork, where some areas have high quality broadband and others have much more limited services, even within the same country."
Jupiter Research forecasts that by 2009, 59% of European households will be online, 63% of which will be broadband.
This represents around 62.4 million households, which offers huge potential for digital content companies.
But they need to bear in mind that broadband comes in many different flavours.
"They need to assess not just the availability of broadband in markets where they are looking to push services, but also the suitability of each country's broadband population," said Mr Fogg.
"Products will have to be tailored for the lowest common denominator," he added.
As more people sign up to broadband, another factor could be the contention ratio - the number of users sharing the same connection to the internet.
The more people there are fighting for the same internet access line, then the slower your connection to the internet will be.
If there are 20 people to one line, then the contention ratio will be 20:1
. If there are 50 people to one line, then the contention ratio will be 50:1.
By 2009, Germany will have the largest broadband market in Europe, with 13.5 million households, followed by the UK, with 10.2 million, Jupiter predicted.
The Netherlands and Sweden will have the highest proportion of high-quality broadband users, it said.