3Com Europe has formed an alliance of users and suppliers to prevent Europe from sinking further behind the US in Internet and electronic commerce usage.
Called A4IE (Alliance for the Internet in Europe) the group is initially led by nine organisations including European physics research centre Cern, Siemens, the University of Manchester?s Network North West, cable operator Telewest, and Dutch bank ING. It will lobby governments and regulatory authorities on behalf of all industries throughout Europe.
The group, announced in Paris yesterday, will attempt to tackle two main concerns - the thorny issues of tariffing and taxation; and the creation of "a solid European infrastructure?.
Steve Rowley, vice president of 3Com Europe, said: ?The issues we face in Europe are so large and complex that a single company cannot solve the problems. The geographical constraints make the task even harder in Europe than in the US, and the pace of technological change means the legislators are always lagging behind.?
He said Europe needs a charasmatic politician to champion the Internet in Europe, as vice president Al Gore did in the US. ?Europe has no single voice and lacks a transnational approach,? added Rowley.
?Europe is storing problems for itself - we can?t leave decisions to legislators. The European Commission is keen to play a leading role [in pushing the Internet] but there is no unified voice from Europe to give it direction,? he said.
The group will meet in the autumn to set out a plan of action and aims to agree how the European Internet backbone could be connected to compete with the US as an IP hub. However Rowley agrees the economic issues will take the longest to resolve.
The group aims to sign 100 partners but promised members will not be there just to fight their own corner. Malcolm Taylor, who heads up regulatory affairs for Telewest, said: ?We will not have members lobbying for their own interests. We all have similar interests.?
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