EC: universal broadband

The fast growth of broadband has lead the European Commission to bring forward a review of the basic telecoms services Europeans can expect. Current statistics suggest about 36% of households in EU member nations have high-speed net access. When a majority of EU citizens are using a telecoms service, EC rules dictate that it becomes one every European should be able to enjoy. "High-speed internet is the passport to the Information Society and an essential condition for economic growth," said Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner in a statement announcing the review. "This is why it is this Commission’s policy to make broadband internet for all Europeans happen by 2010." The EC’s Universal Service Obligations (USO) demand that all citizens who want them should be able to get access to basic telephone services. The EC reviews the USO every three years and in its report kicking off the latest overhaul, it said broadband was growing at a pace that would mean more Europeans were using it than not. Figures from the EC suggest that from 2003-2007 broadband use in member nations tripled to 36% of households and had an annual growth rate of 20%. Despite this, said the EC, there were "striking gaps" among member states and the coverage their citizens enjoyed. The EC is inviting submissions from telecoms firms, governments and citizens with the aim of producing a communique in 2009 and perhaps legislation in 2010. …………..

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