A leading member of the European Commission's (EC) digital team has warned that Europe could miss out on many of the benefits to society that superfast broadband could provide.
Speaking at the Next Gen 2012 event in London on Monday attended by V3, Robert Madelin, the EC director general for Communications Networks, Content and Technology said it wasn't good enough to assume broadband progress would happen over time.
"The challenge is whether as a continent we are going to drift along and perform reasonably well, or are we going to get ahead [of other regions]," he said.
"We have to get society to understand the very high speed connections are crucial so that we [the industry] get the political, regulatory and financial support we need from markets and authorities to ensure a better connected future."
Madelin, touching on potential austerity cutbacks in nations such as the UK, said a failure to adequately invest in networks would see the region fall behind on issues like e-justice, e-health, smart energy services or cross-border ID systems.
"Look at cyber crime - we need networks that are faster and able to help nations share timely intelligence for early warnings and knowledge sharing and we need networks that can provide that," he added.
Madelin said that it was vital firms understood how broadband would help them grow by boosting the use of technologies like cloud computing, the internet of things and big data.
"Local businesses play a crucial role as they need to make it clear why superfast broadband will benefit them," he said.
"The society-wide impact of broadband will help ensure that the funding decisions that will be made by Christmas, possibly by next Easter [by member states] will determine if the road is rocky, or not, over the next decade."
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