January 07, 2010

Universal broadband across EU?

The incoming Spanish EU Presidency, along with its immediate successors in Belgium and Hungary, wants to include broadband as part of the range of telecommunications services covered by the Universal Service Directive (which relates mainly to fixed-lines). This follows agreement between the European Parliament and Council in November on a major overhaul of EU telecoms rules ('Telecoms Package'), which will strengthen consumer rights, safeguard internet access, protect data, boost competition, and modernise signal technology from mid-2011. December's European Council subsequently agreed priorities for a new European Digital Agenda (which is set to have its own Commissioner) - highlighting the importance of an ambitious European ICT policy in terms of reaching key goals for growth, jobs, social inclusion and sustainability. These include achieving 100 percent broadband coverage across Europe by 2013.

The Spanish ambition would oblige Member States to make broadband available right throughout their territories and for citizens to have a right to be offered the opportunity to access it. The move is aimed at improving web access in rural areas and to ward off a socio-economic 'digital divide' as increasing number of services are made available online. Until now, national regulators have retained the right to declare universal services unnecessary in areas which are already covered by existing offers. According to the three governments' joint programme for the next 18 months of the EU Council, ''the presidencies will launch work on the new scope of the universal service in electronic communications and on the incorporation of broadband in the scope of universal service.''

Telecoms Package
Draft Programme of the next three EU Presidencies

Posted by iroronan at January 7, 2010 02:34 PM

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