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EC Digital Agenda receives cautious welcome from cable, broadcasters

The European Commission has unveiled its plans to accelerate the development of a single EU digital market, and has set a goal for all citizens to have access to 30Mbps or higher speed broadband services by 2020.

The Digital Agenda for Europe document identifies seven key areas for action, including super-fast broadband. As well as the 30Mbps target for all, the Commission wants to see half of European households subscribing to services with 100Mbps or higher. It pointed out that today only 1% of Europeans have a fibre-based broadband connection compared to 12% of Japanese and 15% of South Koreans.

Cable industry association said the EU plan would need to address the importance of the rapid rollout of high-speed broadband services. “We are actually delivering ultra high speed broadband networks today and see a quickly expanding reach among our 72 million customers across Europe. We want to reach more citizens and the EU wants us to, as well.” said Cable Europe President, Manuel Kohnstamm. “We share these strategic goals with the Commission, and we’ll keep up the pace for Europe’s digitization. Our continued network investments keep pushing the competition.”

The EC also wants to see 50% of the population buying online by 2015, and 20% buying online across borders, the number of people using the internet regularly grow from 60% to 75% by 2015 and the number of people who have never used the internet halve to 15%.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) welcomed the Digital Agenda document, which also addresses digital copyright, spectrum management and net neutrality. The EBU welcomed the EC’s plan to simplify copyright clearance, management and cross-border licensing, and urged the adoption of a sectoral approach that respected all rights-holders. On spectrum management, the EBU pointed to the importance of digital-terrestrial TV, which it said it was essential to make content available to as many EU citizens as possible. The EBU also welcomed what it saw as a positive approach on net neutrality and said it “fully supports the Commission’s intention to closely monitor the implementation of the new legislative provisions on the openness and neutrality of the internet”.