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Gigabit

Europe's Broadband Challenge

6:30 AM -- The European Commission says broadband speeds across Europe are improving, with 29 percent of high-speed access connections having downstream speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s by July this year, up from 15 percent a year earlier.

But there's a long way to go before the Commission's targets for the region are hit. It wants every European to have access to basic broadband by 2013, though in July this year the region had around 128 million fixed broadband lines and around 220 million households. That puts a lot of pressure on mobile broadband to take up the slack in the next three years.

In addition, the Commission, as part of its Digital Agenda for Europe, wants every household to have a connection of at least 30 Mbit/s by 2020, and at least half to have broadband connections running at 100 Mbit/s or more. Phew!

The Commission knows how important sorting out radio spectrum will be to hitting these targets. Neelie Kroes, the EC's vice-president for the Digital Agenda, stated: "Take up and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more to reach our very fast broadband targets. In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband, for which demand is growing very fast." (See Europe's 'Digital Oxygen'.)

If anyone is capable of making this happen, or at least setting Europe on the right path, it's Kroes, who has the same kind of no-nonsense attitude that characterized Viviane Reding's tenure as communications services watchdog. (See Reding Replaced as Europe's Telecom Watchdog.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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