Saturday, September 27, 2008

Europe - broadband as universal service

Broadband Internet for all Europeans: Commission launches debate on future of universal service

How can the EU achieve that all Europeans – from the North of Finland to the South of Italy, from the Western Ireland to Eastern Romania – have access to broadband Internet? This is the main question raised in a Commission report today. From 2003-2007 broadband use in the EU tripled to 36% of households. However, 7% of the EU's population are still not connected (30% in rural areas). There are striking gaps in the EU: 100% of the population is covered in Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium, but more than 60% in Romania (75% in rural areas) do not have broadband access. Even in strong economies such as Italy and Germany, 18% and 12% respectively of the rural population are not covered. With broadband increasingly important in daily life, policy tools like radio spectrum management and mobile satellite services should accompany a broad debate about the universal service in telecoms – a safety net guaranteeing a minimum level of services, such as connection to a phone network and basic Internet access, filling basic needs that the market does not.

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