Commission proposals for £8 billion investment in rural broadband welcomed - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Commission proposals for £8 billion investment in rural broadband welcomed

Friday, 21 October 2011
South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson, left, has this week welcomed the European Commission's announcement for a multi billion pound investment in rural broadband to bring all homes up to a 30 Megabits per second speed (Mbps) by 2020.

The announcement, part of a package of measures launched by the Commission “Connecting Europe”, is designed to boost economic growth by encouraging paralleled private investment and seeks to bring areas such as the rural South West up to par with the big cities and the capital.

The coalition government, in addition to and including money via the European Regional Development Fund, has invested hundreds of millions of pounds across the South West in upgrading exchanges as it aims to make the UK the fastest in Europe.

Commenting on the Commission’s proposals, Sir Graham said: ''alongside the coalition government, the European Union has made high speed broadband one of its top priorities for the next decade. Public investment is vital as too often private companies sell rural areas short due to the lack of a good profit margin in comparison with densely populated areas.

"It is important, in the current economic climate, that there is investment in infrastructure, especially in areas which encourage growth. We are falling behind developing economies such as China and Turkey which who are ploughing huge resources into upgrading internet services and transport,he said.

The South West has specific challenges to overcome because of the region’s size, absence of giant cities, and because it is largely rural. As a result the region is at a disadvantage when compared to others and may fall short of national targets of 90 per cent coverage by 2017 even with these additional monies as discussed.

UPDATE, 07/11/11: A study by Ofcom, reported today in the Western Morning News, has identified Cornwall and Devon as 'digital deserts'. The report found that 18 per cent of users in Cornwall and 17 per cent in Devon were not getting access to what has been described as "decent" broadband connections.

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