'Broadband subsidies make sense,' argues Commission

October 29, 2002

Brussels, 28 Oct 2002

Representatives from the European Commission have defended the policy of subsidising the introduction of broadband infrastructure in certain areas at a high-level panel meeting.

The panel discussion was part of the Eurescom summit 2002, and brought together representatives from government and industry to study the perspectives of broadband in Europe. Broadband technology allows users to connect to the Internet at high speeds over their telephone lines, and its widespread introduction is highlighted as a main aim of the Commissions eEurope 2005 action plan.

Joachim Claus, head of innovation management at Deutsche Telekom, rejected all types of state intervention in broadband services, including subsidies for the building of infrastructure. But Andrew Houghton, representative of the Commission's DG Information Society, argued that: 'Where markets don't work, subsidies to develop the infrastructure make sense.' The eEurope 2005 action plan specifically advocates the use of EU structural funds to facilitate broadband access in remote and rural areas.

On other issues there was more agreement, however, such as the scope of the regulatory framework necessary for further proliferation of the technology. The Commission has already called for the elimination of legislative barriers to broadband, and Michael Bartholomew, director of the European telecoms operators organisation, argued for 'regulatory coherence across Europe' as a pre-condition for its successful introduction.

The panel also concluded that the availability of compelling data-rich content, such as music and games, is a key driver of consumer adoption of the technology, which echoed the findings of the Commission document.

For further information, please consult the following web address: http://www.eurescom.de/summit2002/

RELATED STORIES: 19128

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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