EU refuses to mandate broadband for all

Forcing operators towards 100 percent mobile phone and broadband availability across the continent just isn't worthwhile, according to the information society commissioner

The European Union has declared that mobile and broadband access is not to become a given for all citizens.

The EU announced the universal service obligation that currently covers fixed landline telecoms — ensuring every European has access to landline service if they want it — won't be extended to cover broadband and mobile services.

According to the EU, mobile phone access is easily available and affordable to the majority of Europeans, so an extra safety net is not needed.

However, with broadband, the Union has decided that because so few people currently use it, the cost of forcing ISPs to blanket the continent with high speed Internet access "would exceed benefits to users". Around 25 percent of households in Europe are now broadband-enabled.

Information society commissioner Viviane Reding added that the provision of such services should be left up to the market to decide, except in regions where geography can hamper deployments.

"Stakeholders also generally agree that the concept and provision of universal service which safeguards access to basic but vital communications services for disadvantaged users, does need to be updated for the Internet age," she said in a statement.

Despite the EU's decision not to pressure ISPs to make universal broadband an obligation, it earlier said that the continent must adopt a 'broadband for all' policy in order to create jobs and growth.