EC plans “broadband-for-all” for 2013

The European Commission (EC) this week proposed a five-year plan for the award and harmonisation of radio spectrum within the EU to boost the deployment and take up of fast and ultra-fast broadband.

Expanding on the Digital Agenda for Europe, EU commissioner Neelie Kroes made a commitment to ensure that every European citizen can access basic broadband by 2013, and fast and ultra-fast broadband by 2020.

While Europe has the highest average levels of broadband take up worldwide, only one per cent of Europeans have a high speed fibre internet connection directly to their homes, compared to 12 per cent of Japanese and 15 per cent of South Koreans.

The proposals include steps to promote efficient spectrum management, and in particular, to ensure that sufficient spectrum is made available for wireless broadband. The Commission proposes that EU countries should by 2012 complete the process of giving licenses to operators to use spectrum bands which have already been technically harmonised at EU level for the use of wireless broadband, (the 900/1800MHz bands, the 2.5GHz band and the 3.4 – 3.8GHz band). In addition, EU countries have been asked to open up the 800MHz band to wireless broadband by January 2013, while foreseeing possible derogations until 2015 in exceptional cases.

“These measures will help to ensure that Europeans get the first-class internet they expect and deserve, so that they can access the content and services they want,” said digital agenda commissioner Kroes.

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