The European Commission is under increasing pressure from telecoms equipment and service providers to remove regulatory hurdles that are delaying the rollout of broadband services for small businesses and consumers.
In the latest development, an industry group backing broadband technology - the ADSL Forum - has invited a senior European Commission official to speak at its next meeting later this month in Vienna and is hoping to hear of progress.
Broadband data services using asynchronous digital subscriber line (ADSL) - which turns copper phonelines into high speed data pipes - are being rapidly rolled out in the US, but despite lengthy testing by many European operators, including BT, very few commercial services are up and running.
ADSL Forum chairman Hans-Erhard Reiter said Forum members - which include BT, Ericsson, Microsoft and Nokia - are hoping to hear that Robert Verrue, director general of the European Commission on DG XIII, understands and is prepared to embrace broadband technology.
"Members want to hear that the EU has set its eyes on broadband in general and understands what it means to move to a society that is always connected," Verrue told VNU Newswire.
"They'd like to hear that the EU understands that being at the forefront of [broadband] defines our competitiveness in more global terms in the future," he said.
At the center of the ADSL Forum's demands of the Commission is making telcos more competitive.
"The most important thing is that we get competition going in all countries at a high level," said Verrue.
In particular it wants the Commission to give more telcos access to local phone networks. At present, most local networks are owned by the former monopoly telco. Moves to unbundle the local loop are underway in some countries, such as Germany, but remain a distant prospect in many others.
"Competition in the local loop is not the fundamental hurdle for DSL, it's more a fundamental issue for broadband to happen in the first place," said Verrue. "Broadband can do to our lifestyles what mobile phones did in the last 10 years."
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