EU Aims For Broadband Access For All Europeans

    September 25, 2008

The European Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said today that all people in the European Union should have broadband access.

"High-speed Internet is the passport to the Information Society and an essential condition for economic growth. This is why it is this Commission’s policy to make broadband Internet for all Europeans happen by 2010", said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding.

"A lot has been achieved over the past four years, and new tools, such as Satellite Broadband, are well on track. It is also good news that the 8 best EU countries far outperform the US in broadband take up. But take up requires access, and is not there in parts of the EU. We need to combine all efforts to make sure that all citizens can get connected soon."

The European Commission released a report today on the state of broadband in Europe. From 2003-2007 broadband use in the EU tripled to 36 percent of households. However, 7 percent of the EU’s population are still not connected (30% in rural areas).

There are major gaps in the EU: 100 percent of the population is covered in Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium, but more than 60 percent in Romania (75% rural areas) do not have broadband access.

Even in economies that are doing well such as Italy and Germany, 18 percent and 12 percent respectively of the rural population is not covered.

So far, the EU has contributed to broadband growth by giving telecoms rules for more competition and investment. Europe had close to 100 million broadband lines in January 2008 and a growth rate of 20 percent, with 52,000 new lines connected daily in 2007.

The EU also implemented a new system for mobile satellite services, which can offer broadband across the EU.

Since the current Commissioner took office, the level of mobile subscriptions has grown from 85 percent to 112 percent.

"These figures are an important vote of confidence of mobile consumers in the health of Europe’s mobile sector", said Reding. "They show that at present, there is no need to impose universal service obligations on mobile operators – even though at least some of their lobbyists try to make us believe the contrary these days."