Rural Europe may get €1bn for broadband

Rural Europe may get €1bn for broadband

Summary: The European Commission has proposed a billion-euro boost for rural broadband across the continent, in a bid to create jobs and stimulate the economy

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The European Commission has proposed a €1bn investment in rural broadband across member states, as part of a general economic recovery plan in the midst of the recession.

The investment, if approved, would help "extend and upgrade high-speed internet in rural communities", according to a Commission statement on Wednesday. The money would be channelled through the EU's rural development fund and would target the 30 percent of the European rural population that currently has no broadband access.

"The extension and upgrading of high-speed internet infrastructure is an economic and social imperative," the statement read. "The European Economic Recovery Plan set out a goal of developing broadband networks to achieve a full 100 percent high-speed internet coverage by 2010. However, rural areas will always face additional difficulties in linking up to broadband. As investment slows to a trickle, this risk is redoubled. This has direct social and economic consequences."

The broadband investment proposal accompanies another proposal for a €4bn (£3.7bn) investment in energy infrastructure, ranging from gas and electricity connections to wind-power projects. A large part of the energy package would be a €1.25bn investment in carbon capture and storage, with four such facilities planned for the UK.

It is not yet clear, however, whether any of the rural broadband investment would make it here, particularly as the UK already has some of the highest rural broadband penetration in Europe. The countries named in the Commission's statement as being in particular need of investment include Poland, Greece and Slovakia. ZDNet UK has approached the Commission to find out whether the UK might benefit from the scheme, but had not received a reply at the time of writing.

The Commission hopes broadband connectivity will create a million jobs and give an €850bn boost to the European economy between 2006-2015. It also said in the statement that the European funds would "be used in addition to private investments and national funding", and would help economically disadvantaged areas become better placed for economic recovery.

Topics: Broadband, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Who pays? Who gets?

    If the funding for this is coming from existing EU funds, then it is so very obvious that Brussels has been receiving too much from member nations. It must be remembered that the EU is still only an administrative tool and not a government. If additional funding is to be sought from member nations then the money should certainly NOT be channelled through the EU's rural development fund, a most inappropriate part of the EU. While the plan is a marvellous ideal project it must be a EU encouraged national project and funded by the individual nations involved. Those that have already spent and developed their broadband systems must not be penalised into paying for those who have not funded their own development, this would actively discourage upgrading existing systems and divert national project funding.
    The EU is interfering unnecessarily again.
    hampshirehog