European Commission embarks on EU-wide broadband deployment push

European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has unveiled its "Connected Communities" initiative, which aims to help towns and cities take a more collaborative approach to delivering broadband services to their citizens.

The organisation is rolling out the scheme to boost the development of broadband networks across Europe, and is calling on local groups, private companies and public sector organisation to submit proposals on how to provide faster connectivity to their areas.

All those interested in taking part must submit their broadband deployment proposals by the 15 October 2014, and from here a select few will go on to receive "in-depth" support for their projects.

The types of additional support on offer will include individual feedback on their plans, as well as assistance from the World Bank in formulating a viable business plan for their projects and access to seed money from the European Investment Bank.

Furthermore, the European Union is also stumping up 453 billion to support initiatives like this, and state aid is potentially also in the offing for projects that are unlikely to harm local competition.

Neelie Kroes, EC vice president, said: "If you're a local authority, a region or a committed broadband activist, we are here to help you.

"We want to connect you to practical support and finance to help you achieve your vision for your community," she added.

The Connected Communities scheme forms part of the EC's ongoing work to ensure 100 per cent of households within the EU have access to 30 Mbps broadband and that at least 50 per cent of these benefit from speeds of 100Mbps or more by 2020.

At present, it's thought that around 64 per cent of EU households get speeds of around 30Mbps, while just three per cent have access to speeds of around 100Mbps.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.