Berlin -- BBWF -- As part of its Digital Single Market initiative, the EU Commission proposed that by 2025 all schools, transport hubs and public service providers across member states should have gigabit connectivity. It hopes to create a "Gigabit Society" to drive economic growth. The EU has also set targets to deliver access to connectivity offering at least 100 Mbps for all European households.
This gave rise to projects that support operators and governments in EU member states looking to turn this vision into reality. During an EU update workshop at Broadband World Forum on Tuesday, speakers shared updates on several strategies underway.
German Federal Broadband Bureau's Funding Programme
All German households will have 50 Mbps service by 2018, said Annette Schumacher, member of the Managing Board at atene KOM, the Agency for Communication, Organization and Managemen. That's despite the common challenge facing most countries' operators: the digital divide, she said.
"We are using a lot of synergies in the telecommunications act and using funds in areas of market failure," said Schumacher.
Germany's program has a budget of about €4 billion (about $4.7 billion) to achieve connectivity targets in areas with limited coverage. The government is awarding up to €15 million ($17.7 million) for infrastructure projects and up to €50,000 ($59,000) for municipalities to get consultancy support. The Federal Funding Program mainly affects rural areas and incentivizes private investment. Roughly 2 million households will be connected under funding awarded so far, she said.
The Broadband Europe project is creating a database of many projects, large and small, and collects information from EU members about national broadband strategies, said Darijus Valiucko, project manager, atene KOM, European Broadband Awards & Broadband Europe.
The organization also operates the European Broadband Awards, which highlights five projects from the continent. By registering their deployments in the database, participants allow greater collaboration and industry knowledge, he said.
"There is no one definition of a good project. You have to have a sound financial model, involve broadband stakeholders and produce results. You have to influence people's lives."
CORA- Connecting Remote Areas
This project was spurred by the rural digital divide, a "huge problem across Europe, which has 28% of its population in rural areas," according to Peyman Khodabakhsh, project manager, atene KOM and Wouter Degadt, coordinator of e-Government at Intercommunale Leiedal.
As a result, there's a big gap in digital literacy, with a "great number" of inhabitants who have never used the Internet. Because there's often a dearth of knowledge, CORA offers guidelines to aid regional and local authorities, said Khodabakhsh. CORA will exchange knowledge, develop guidance and then test these solutions, the presenters said.
Added Degadt: "in Belgium we have a high ranking in coverage and speed but a low ranking in terms of transparency so we have to work on inclusion and building digital skills."
They hope to return to Broadband World Forum next year with some of the first results of the CORA project.
— Gabriella Jeakins is a Digital Content Marketer at KNect365, based in London. In addition to contributing to UBB2020, she is the editor of the 5G + Virtualisation community which supports the 5G World event series and works on the team behind London Tech Week.