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Date:16/11/11

European Commission claims 95 per cent of citizens have broadband access

The European Commission estimates that around 95 per cent of European Union citizens now have basic broadband access, as the organisation aims to achieve universal coverage by 2013.

Frank Mather, EC director general for the information society, said at an Intellect conference in London that broadband access for the total population is high, but that more must be done to make the EC a competitive broadband region.

"Around 95 per cent of citizens are now covered by broadband access, although only about 80 per cent of rural areas have access. There is a clear rural dimension to this problem to meet the 2013 target," he said.

"We need to establish a world-class broadband infrastructure to compete with other nations around the world, like Malaysia and other Asian nations, which at the moment we are a long way behind.

"The EC wants all citizens to have access to 30Mbit/s services, and at least half on 100Mbit/s, by 2020, and recently proposed €9.2bn in funding to supplement private sector spending to meet this goal.

Ensuring that broadband markets are able to meet business requirements is vital for Europe's future, Mather explained, noting the central role of information communication technologies on economic prosperity.

"The priority has to be growth. Low growth is the cause of the problems affecting Europe at present, and economists and politicians agree that ICT is the key to growth, currently accounting for around half of all growth in the region," he said. Despite this, Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards claimed recently that take-up of high-speed broadband services is slow owing to a lack of killer applications to entice consumers and businesses to upgrade.



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