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EU chief sets new targets for broadband speed, 5G and public wi-fi

Thursday, September 15th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The EU wants all European households to have access to 100Mbps broadband speeds by 2025.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker set out the new objective during his 2016 State of the Union address yesterday.

He said all “socio-economic drivers” such as schools, hospitals, transport hubs and tech businesses should have access to 1Gbps broadband by 2025.

All urban areas, major roads and railways should have uninterrupted coverage of 5G – the next generation of mobile networks.

An interim target of making 5G commercially available in at least one major city in each EU member state by 2020 has also been set.

Mr Juncker also proposed “to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020”.

“We need to be connected. Our economy needs it. People need it. And we have to invest in that connectivity now,” he said.

The proposals may not yet apply to the UK, as it may have left the EU by the end of the decade.

Günther H Oettinger, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “Connectivity is a key prerequisite for Europe’s digital future.

“The Internet of Things, digitisation of industry, cloud, big data – all this demands secure and ubiquitous connectivity, with the best speed and quality.

“Europe has the ambition to lead on the deployment of 5G. It is time to move to a gigabit society and make sure all Europeans, whether in the countryside or in cities, can get access to a quality internet connection.”

'Technocratic mistakes'

Earlier this week, the commission revealed details of its plan to scrap mobile roaming charges from June 2017.

But the document suggested that a time limit – or “fair use policy” – would apply and was swiftly withdrawn on Mr Juncker’s instruction.

During his speech yesterday, he said it was important to correct “technocratic mistakes” quickly when they happen.

“The commission, the [European] Parliament and the Council have jointly decided to abolish mobile roaming charges. This is a promise we will deliver,” he said.

“Not just for business travellers who go abroad for two days, not only for the holiday-maker who spends two weeks in the sun, but for our cross-border workers and for the millions of Erasmus students who spend their studies abroad for one or two semesters.

“I have therefore withdrawn a draft that a well-meaning official designed over the summer.

“The draft was not technically wrong. But it missed the point of what was promised. And you will see a new, better draft as of next week. When you roam, it should be like at home.”

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