EU urges more broadband uptake

23 Mar 2006

The European Union’s (EU’s) executive office has called on the governments of member nations to do more to get people online, saying that only 13% of the union’s 450 million people – or a quarter of all households – currently have broadband internet access. According to the EU’s IT commissioner Vivane Reding, if governments act now to boost investment in high speed networks, all EU citizens could have access by 2010. The European Commission hopes that subsidies for public/private initiatives from its EUR70 billion Rural Development Fund will be used by governments to close the digital divide. According to EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes deployment of broadband may be hampered by market failures in rural and remote areas but well targeted subsidies could help build open networks and increase competition to make broadband costs more affordable. According to EU figures The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden top the table of broadband penetration rates, with figures of between 20% and 25%.