The new commissioner for the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society, Günther Oettinger, has opened discussions on future achievable goals. These are projections that should be aimed for in the wake of the Digital Agenda programme bringing 30 Mbps+ superfast broadband speeds to everybody by 2020.
At the moment, it is not certain whether all parts of Europe will achieve the original target set for the Digital Agenda. The UK government, however, is still confident that there will be no difficulty, as 80 per cent of the country can already access this service. Talking about the challenges that lie ahead in this sector, Oettinger said: “I am wondering whether in the future an average SME with 30 employees can fully benefit from all the opportunities of a Digital Single Market with only a 30 Mbps internet connexion.
“I am wondering why some communities, on their own initiative, are rolling out rural networks that deliver Gigabit connectivity, when the EU’s existing targets are more than 30 times less ambitious.”
Mr Oettinger would like to see a “cross-sector, cross-generational” discussion on future-oriented connectivity in Europe, and he will consult with relevant parties on this issue over the next several months. It is well worth remembering that a lot of countries that recognise the importance of high-performance broadband speeds are already going beyond the set targets.
The main challenge for the UK is to bring ultrafast broadband speeds to the “final third” of businesses (such as SMEs) and homes. This is likely to necessitate a lot more public financial support, and more flexibility than what we have in the rules that exist at the moment. Another argument is that we should first try to achieve the fixed line 30 Mbps speeds to get 100 per cent coverage before attempting anything more ambitious.