Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding has opened a public consultation on bringing highspeed internet to those areas of the EU where it is not yet available.
In particular, the Commission wants to know from citizens and businesses whether they see a need for more administrative measures to boost the growth of broadband in remote, poor or sparsely populated areas, and what sort of measures these would be. A second set of questions deals with the Commission’s plans to set up a website on which regional and local authorities could, on a voluntary basis, publish their efforts for more widespread broadband deployment.
Over the last year, broadband has grown by 70%, to 40 million lines in the EU. But while 90% of the people living in towns and cities of the EU-15 could gain access to high-speed internet, the technology was only available to 62% of those living in the countryside. For the ten countries that joined the EU on 1 May 2004, reliable figures are not yet available. Most of them are believed to have even more of a “broadband gap”, as the Commission labelled the problem, hinting at the “digital divide” separating developing from industrial countries.