European Comission push for blanket broadband coverage by 2010
The European Commission is looking into making broadband access a universal service obligation (USO) by 2010. This would mean that here in the UK, in the same way BT have to provide all households with a telephone service, they would also be required to do the same with a broadband connection. There will not be any specific requirements on technology used to provide services however. Currently around 36% of households in EU member states have broadband Internet access, and this has tripled since 2003, with an annual growth rate of around 20%.
"High-speed internet is the passport to the Information Society and an essential condition for economic growth. This is why it is this Commission's policy to make broadband internet for all Europeans happen by 2010."Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner
Currently, coverage in areas of Europe varies quite widely with Eastern Europe having a lower take up than Western Europe. The BBC reports Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium have 100% availability of service if desired, although whether this comes at a higher cost using satellite or other technologies in some rural areas isn't clear. Increasing coverage to those harder to reach 'broadband not-spots' will always turn out to be ever more costly and whether providers will be able to reflect this by increased charges under a USO is yet to be seen.