For many years, high-speed data connections were regarded as the luxury alternative to ‘normal’, dial-up Internet access. In recent years, however, broadband has come to be seen as a major cause for economic growth and development. In most industrialized nations, email has become as important as the vintage analogue telephone used to be. Social communities, instant messaging and other tools are about to become standard elements of communication. Broadband networks have gained the same status as streets, public transport systems, and water and energy networks. And in October 2009, Charles Kao, whose work laid the foundations for today’s high bandwidth long distance fiber optic networks was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work. Unsurprisingly, a massive increase in broadband penetration is key to the European Union’s (EU) Lisbon Strategy. As a result, in November 2008, the European Commission earmarked 1 billion EUR in financial aid to increase the availability of rural broadband. Many member countries have developed ambitious programs to increase the availability of high-speed Internet access. ‘Digital France 2012’ seeks to guarantee Internet access of at least 512 kBit/s for no more than 35 EUR per month.
KeywordsEuropean Union Internet Access Public Engagement Infrastructure Investment Public Transport System
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