EU says broadband key for economic recovery

EU Telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has commended Digital Britain's broadband proposals, but warns that Europe as a whole must have a unified broadband strategy for economic recovery.

In the Digital Britain report released last week, Lord Carter confirmed that he was looking for all UK households to be connected with a speed of at least 2Mbs, as well as a broadband tax to make sure that Britain got next-generation broadband networks.

Reding said that other countries like France and Germany had similar proposals, but European member states needed to make sure that they made the most of the EU single market. They also needed to ensure that various national initiatives didn't "cause disharmony" with each other.

She said that a challenge set by the European Council for the European Commission to come up with a unifying broadband strategy by the end of the year was an "important challenge", but also a great opportunity".

Reding said: "Not only do we need a European Broadband Strategy to prompt a speedy recovery from the economic crisis, we also need a broadband strategy at European level to extract the synergies from national strategies."

Reding, who was speaking at the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) conference in Brussels, also said that next-generation networks wasn't just about short-term recovery, but also long-term technological progress.

She said: "I would suggest that just as important for Europe's recovery are the long-term economic benefits of high-speed broadband."

"That is the gains stemming from more productive businesses and organisations on the one hand, and from product innovation and more choice for consumers on the other."