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Photonics for broadband gets £20m EU boost

The European Commission has kicked off 13 photonics research projects to help get high-speed fibre broadband across the region to 1GBps or higher
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

The European Commission has launched 13 research projects to spur development of photonics technologies for cheap and pervasive 1Gb broadband across the EU.

Neelie Kroes

European commissioner Neelie Kroes has welcomed plans to fund 13 EU projects that will apply photonics to super-fast broadband. Photo credit: Neelie Kroes/Flickr

The UK, Israel, Poland, Germany, Austria and the European Commission collectively donated a total of €22.3m (£20m) to the photonics projects, with the countries putting up two-thirds and the Commission one-third of the funding pot, the Commission announced on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy that research on technology relevant to delivering super-fast internet speeds to the homes and businesses of 500 million Europeans is taking off," Neelie Kroes, digital agenda commissioner, said in the announcement. "Such technology could have a crucial role to play in meeting Europe's broadband needs far into the future."

In February, Kroes invited the photonics industry to enter into a wide-ranging public-private partnership with the Commission to drive the technology forward in a variety of fields.

Each of the 13 projects involves components and IT systems based around photonics for fast broadband. They are all projects submitted to the Piano+ initiative, which was a competition for the funding of future EU broadband projects announced in March 2010.

"The objective is... to develop technology to give customers a faster service at no extra cost," the Commission said.

Taken together, the projects range from optical-fibre network-access systems to network structures designed around photonics, as well as research to drive down the cost of semiconductor lasers used in photonics.

In May, European researchers demonstrated the power of silicon photonics by using a single laser to deliver 26Tbps over a 50km optical fibre.

Piano+ is part of the ERA-NET scheme, which is a framework for EU countries to carry out and collaborate on public research programmes. ERA-NET is part of the Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, which has set aside €200m for photonics and associated research.

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