EU wants more broadband access for member-nations

The EU wants governments of its member-nations to do more to get people online, saying only 13% of the union's 450 million people have broadband Internet access, an Associated Press report said.


"If governments act now to boost investment in high-speed networks in remote and rural areas, all EU citizens could have such access by 2010," the report quoted Viviane Reding, the EU's information technology commissioner, as saying.


The report said the European Commission hoped that governments would use the subsidies for public-private undertakings from its 70-billion-euro ($85-billion) rural development fund to close the digital divide.


The report further said that according to the EU, one of the main challenges was making expansion into less populated, rural areas commercially viable for Internet service providers. Only 13% of the EU population, or about 25% of households, had broadband access.


The Netherlands, Denmark and Finland had the highest penetration rates of between 20% and 25%, followed by Sweden with 19%, Belgium with 18%, Britain and France with 15%, and Luxembourg with 14%, the report said.


The report further said the other 19 nations fell below the EU average of 15%, especially the newcomer nations. In Italy and Spain, for example, broadband reached only 10% of the population.