EU Announces Broadband Plan to Eliminate “Digital Virgins” and Expand High-Speed Internet Access     Print Email

An ambitious five-year plan promising universal broadband coverage by 2013 has been announced by the EU. This follows a similar U.S. plan released by the Obama administration. (See article in European Affairs earlier this spring by the Federal Communications Commission.) The European Commission’s newly-appointed Commissioner of Digital Affairs Neelie Kroes made the announcement. She noted that 30 percent of Europeans have never used the internet – making them “digital virgins, so to say.” As a next phase, the plan calls for universal access to high-speed broadband, i.e. above 30 mbps (megabits per second) by 2020, with 50 percent of Europeans being able to subscribe to ultra-high-speed rates of above 100 mbps.

The plan addresses the issue of according “fundamental right” status to broadband access. (See our blog post on this issue.)

The EU hopes to create a single digital market and break down national barriers that “hamper access to pan-European telecom services, digital services and content,” said Kroes.

Kroes announced that the Commission wants to realize full cross-boarder e-authentication and establish EU online “trustmarks” for web-based shoppers as well as a European online dispute resolution system. She said that she intends to propose some 50 new laws to be adopted by the member states.

European Affairs