Europe outlines plan to boost broadband by 2020

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Neelie Kroes
Image caption,
Neelie Kroes wants to see more people online

All European households will have broadband speeds of 30Mbps (megabits per second) by 2020, the European Union has pledged.

It also promised universal broadband coverage by 2013 while getting half of Europeans using public services and shopping online by 2015.

It is part of the European Union's five year plan for the digital economy.

The raft of measures was announced by newly appointed digital affairs commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The EU's digital agenda will see over 30 laws introduced over the next three years.

Laying out her plans, Ms Kroes said that the EU invested 40% less in technology than the US.

It meant that nearly a third of Europeans had never used the internet and only 1% had access to fibre-based high-speed networks.

In order to catch up, EU governments must double their annual spending on research and development to 11bn euros (£9.4bn) by 2020, she said.

She also plans to improve technology standards, eliminate regulatory barriers, encourage electronic payments and simplify digital copyright management and licensing.

In November the European Parliament voted in favour of a major overhaul of telecoms law.

It aimed to harmonise the way mobile broadband is rolled out across Europe as well as establishing internet access as a fundamental right.

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