European Commission acts for better broadband in rural areas

In the margins of the ongoing Broadband Days, the Commission launched yesterday the Broadband Competence Offices and a toolkit for rural broadband. This toolkit consists of a 5 point action plan with concrete deadlines to bring more broadband in rural areas of the EU because currently only 40% of rural households have next generation access compared to 76% of total EU households. Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society,Mariya Gabriel, said in a joint statement after the launch event: “All EU citizens should be able to benefit from high-speed broadband connections. This is not the case today, especially in rural areas, which are less attractive to investors. This is why the Commission pays particular attention to good connectivity and supports the roll-out of broadband connections to 18 million rural citizens until 2020. The Broadband Competence Offices are an important step forward to bridge financing with potential investors, authorities and citizens. They must work on concrete issues and help on the ground with professional adapted advice to boost broadband investment. We also launched a toolkit on how best to accelerate this process and facilitate investments in rural areas. This toolkit will be finalised by mid next year.If we want to keep our rural communities strong and sustainable, while generating the additional benefit of reducing the burden on our cities, we need to do more, and we need to do it faster.” More details are available in the news item as well as in Commissioner Hogan’s speech from yesterday. Yesterday evening Commissioners Hogan and Crețu also awarded the five best European broadband projects. This year’s winners come from Finland, Greece, Italy, UK and Sweden. More information on EU financial support to digital technologies and broadband is available on the Cohesion Open Data Platform.