Monday, April 10, 2006

EC Sees No Need to Extend Universal Service to Mobiles, Broadband

The European Commission has concluded that there is at present no need to extend the "universal service" safety net to mobile and high-speed Internet services.

In a new report, the EC finds that consumers already have widespread affordable access to mobile communications within their home countries, and so far only a minority has high-speed internet connections, so the cost of extending universal service obligations to these services would exceed benefits to users.

"This report reflects a broad stakeholder consensus that bringing mobile and high-speed internet services to users is best left to the market, except where structural problems such as geographical remoteness justify specific public investment to help bridge the broadband gap" commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "However, stakeholders also generally agree that the concept and provision of universal service which safeguards access to basic but vital communications services for disadvantaged users, does need to be updated for the internet age."