COLLAB distinguished with the APDC / Siemens Innovation Award

Commission wants to guarantee broadband in less developed areas of the EU

COLLAB distinguished with the APDC / Siemens Innovation Award

The European Commission is calling for the mobilization of Community instruments so that all European citizens have access to broadband Internet by 2010, in particular those from the poorest regions, admitting to authorizing state aid to develop what it considers to be a «crucial» element to stimulate growth and jobs in Europe. This is the main observation of the Communication «Bridging the Broadband Gaps» of the European Commission, presented today jointly by the European Commissioners for the Information Society and the Media, Competition, Regional Policy and Agriculture and Rural Development.

«Outside the EU’s metropolitan centers, demand is weak, due to the shortage of the population and distance, which implies a lower return on investment and can discourage commercial suppliers», the Communication said in the press release. Brussels therefore suggests the establishment of public-private partnerships with a view to deploying broadband technologies that best correspond to «local needs». The EU’s structural funds and rural development fund could also be presented as a resource to help local authorities create services in the area of ​​broadband.

The European strategy should, according to the Commission’s proposal, be based on two main lines of action, the first comprising the strengthening of national broadband strategies, with clear objectives and corresponding to regional needs and the second aimed at intensifying exchange best practices, namely through the creation of a website that functions as a unique meeting point where local authorities and companies can exchange information and share their experience.

«Broadband connections should not be limited to big cities. If the EU and its 25 Member States use all the political instruments at their disposal intelligently, it is not impossible that in 2010 there will be broadband for all Europeans , but it is necessary to act immediately «, emphasizes Viviane Reding, Commissioner for the Information Society and the Media, in the press release.

At the end of 2005, the broadband penetration rate in the EU was estimated at 13 per cent of the population, but if high-speed Internet access was available to over 90 per cent of businesses and households in urban areas in the EU15 , in remote and rural areas coverage is around 60 percent.

Broadband speed is also often lower in rural areas, making it difficult to transmit large volumes of data, necessary for business, health and multimedia content online. The bandwidth throughput in rural areas is, on average, less than 512 kbps, while in urban areas it is increasing, and is often already above 1 Mbps, the EC indicates.

Based on data for the third quarter of 2005, the European Telecommunications Association (ECTA) attributed to Portugal a broadband penetration rate close to 11 percent, placing the country in 11th place among the remaining member states of the EU15 (see Related News). Anacom’s figures for the last quarter of last year mention a penetration rate of 11.5 percent.

Related News:

2006-03-09 – Broadband connects 82% of Internet service subscribers in Portugal

2006-03-08 – ECTA analysis confirms delay in broadband in Portugal

2005-12-20 – Number of broadband users grows more than 50% in one year