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The widespread use of broadband - high-speed, always on internet access - is vital to
achieving productivity gains in the European economy and maximising the gains to society
from eHealth, eGovernment and more.

Bridging the Broadband Gap
Benefits of broadband for rural areas and less developed regions

The move to broadband fundamentally changes the Internet experience - phenomena as
diverse as 'user generated' content sites and advanced 'digital ecosystem' technologies
would probably not have appeared without widespread, high-speed, always-on connections.
Europe's citizens, patients and students, moreover, will only reap the rewards of the
Information Society once broadband access is

In October 2005, Europe overtook the USA in terms of the number of broadband lines
Broadband access, in other words, has become a prerequisite for everything from economic
growth to social inclusion. While broadband penetration rates in Europe are still behind the
world’s leader (South Korea), a concerted effort has seen broadband take-up rise fast over
the past few years, with growth rates of around 70%. In October 2005, Europe overtook the
USA in terms of the number of broadband lines, while 2006 saw a record number of new
broadband connections.

Yet progress is uneven - broadband has yet to reach some of the EU’s less-developed
areas. In 2005, broadband was available to only about 60% of businesses and households
in the remote and rural areas of the EU15, compared to over 90% in the urban areas. In the
new Member States, the gap is even greater.

Where it is available, moreover, broadband speeds are often lower in rural areas, reducing
the performance of the available services. While widespread broadband could help bridge
gaps in today's society, this inequality could actually make them worse.

Action is needed at regional, national and European level to close this digital divide and
ensure everyone can access the Information Society, regardless of where they are. The EU
is helping Member States learn from each others' experiences and coordinate their
activities, as well as combining all of its own policy instruments towards this goal.

Internet Communications
The internet is one of the most important innovations of our time, bringing substantial
benefits to economies and societies, but also driving change in the way we live and work.
As the Internet is not confined to national borders, these changes need to be managed at
European and global levels. Internet: Bringing substantial benefits to economies and
While the digital revolution is influencing more and more aspects of our lives, its reach is
still uneven - fewer than 50% of EU households access the internet, while broadband
internet access, critical to getting the most out of advanced online services, is still difficult
to find in many remote regions. Ensuring the Information Society benefits all Europeans,
therefore, is still an important social goal for Europe
The Internet also offers enormous possibilities to European companies, particularly SMEs,
which can for the first time realistically grow inside Europe's single market through the use
of eBusiness technologies. There is still a lot of work to do - while 64% of EU businesses
have a website, only a minority are using it to offer innovative services to their business
partners While the internet is both a driving source of innovation and an important tool to
combat social exclusion, finally, it is also an important economic sector in its own right: in
2006, for example, the software and IT services markets were worth 11% and 20%
respectively of the total ICT market by value.

"Over 50% of global e-mail traffic is estimated to be spam"

Along with its benefits, however, the Internet also brings new challenges, such as the
illegal copying of digital content, cybercrime, spam and the invasion of privacy. Action on
European and even global level is necessary to meet these challenges.

Mobile and Wireless Communications
Europe is a world leader in the mobile communications sector, with many of the world’s
largest equipment suppliers, mobile phone companies and mobile content producers. This
is no accident - it is the result of a concerted, coordinated EU-wide push by the
Commission, national governments and industry.

Tourist guidebooks on your mobile phone

Europe's co-ordinated approach in the development and deployment of the GSM standard
has propelled European companies into globally dominant positions in this enormously
valuable market. Nowadays around two billion people in over 217 countries and
territories use mobile phones based on Europe's GSM standard.

The GSM standard is an European success story: the technical standard itself was
developed through EU research and deployment, and encouraged by European regulation
of the communications industry. The resulting competition drove further development,
driving hardware and call prices down in a virtuous circle from which everyone wins.

"The resulting competition drove ... hardware and call prices down in a virtuous circle from
which everyone wins"

The exception is when you use your mobile phone abroad - the Commission is therefore
developing a roaming regulation to protect consumers and business people travelling
throughout Europe.

The sector, however, is at a turning point, with “second-generation” GSM-based services
being replaced by third-generation (3G) networks. By providing high-speed, mobile
internet access, these technologies open up a landscape where users can communicate,
read, listen, watch and work as they wish, wherever they wish, using mobile services
personalised to their interests and even physical location.

These technologies open up immense possibilities in areas as diverse as logistics, news and
entertainment. The new landscape could provide all organisations with a keener
competitive edge, allowing employees to work more effectively in a wider range of
environments, and will generate new opportunities for industries as diverse as software
development and Europe’s cultural sector.

These services - and the ones to follow - will drive medium to long-term growth in the
sector. A European approach is as essential now as it was to the original success of GSM.

Satellites can deliver a wide range of Information Society services - interactive TV, mobile
broadband internet access, navigation services and more - to areas other systems cannot
reach, thus helping close Europe's digital divide and enabling applications as diverse as
eBusiness and crisis management.

"...satellite communications have already brought many benefits to society and citizens, in
Europe and worldwide"

Meteorological satellites help fight against air pollution
Satellite-based systems can provide broadband internet access to fixed and mobile users
without installing expensive wired networks. They thus form an important part of today's
Information Society infrastructure, and will provide access in the future to millions of users
worldwide for a range of applications.

This is already very visible in the broadcasting industry, where European operators
currently serve some 20 million users across Europe, and are expanding into Asia and the

Satellite systems are also crucial in ensuring all Europeans can access the Information
Society in rural and outlying regions, where other systems are difficult to deploy on a
commercial basis. By providing these regions with high-quality access to Information
Society services in areas as diverse as health, education and eBusiness, satellite systems
can help close Europe's digital divide.

Given its strategic importance to Europe's economy and society, therefore, the satellite
communications sector is touched by a range of EU policies and activities, including
information society, research, broadcasting, transport, environment, space and more.

The Revolution will be televised
Broadcasting used to consist of a limited number of large, government-licensed
organisations distributing a small number of radio and television channels to massive,
captive audiences. The audiences, generally divided into national markets, would turn on
their TV or radio to receive the programmes the broadcaster decided to produce for them -
at the time they decided to transmit them - often paying taxes and enduring advertising for
the privilege. New communication technologies are turning this model on its head, putting
programme consumers and creators first.

Information & Communication Technologies allow individuals to
create and broadcast their programmes from their desktop to
people around the world, who can watch it when they want on
their TV, PC, mobile phone or any other Internet-enabled device

Mobile television.

While the broadband Internet is revolutionising the broadcasting,
music and cinema industries, more traditional broadcasting tools are also evolving: digital
TV allows interactive information services without the need for PCs; internet radio
stations are multiplying to satisfy a thousand unfilled niche markets; mobile TV services
are expected to reach 69 million global subscribers by 2009.

A complete, optimised high quality workflow for digital cinema, providing effective and seamless
handling of film data from acquisition to post-production and transmission. ... more

While this revolution challenges Europe's broadcasting industry, it also offers incredible
opportunities to reach global audiences. Europe's industry is well placed to exploit these
opportunities, with numerous world-class broadcasters from both public and private sectors
already providing content to global markets.

But it will need to invest and adapt. Europe-wide broadcasting rules provide the industry
the certainty it needs to invest and a huge 'home market', allowing it to grow and prosper
globally. Europe is updating these rules to account for the Information Society revolution,
and helping all levels of the industry develop and use the new technologies.

Two examples:

• digital TV broadcasting needs only a fraction of the radio spectrum used by
analogue to provide the same services and coverage. Switching to digital could thus
potentially free up very valuable frequencies for new applications, stimulating
innovation. The Commission is therefore coordinating and accelerating the
switchover across Europe, allowing industry to plan its long-term growth with
certainty - see the Electronic Communications;
• TV is going Mobile, offering immense opportunities for European broadcasters,
mobile network operators, content providers and equipment suppliers. None of
these very diverse organisations, however, can act in isolation - they need to work
together, across Europe, to create a successful new industry -;
Television on the Move
Mobile broadcasting promises entirely new markets, products and services for
broadcasters, content producers, equipment makers and - of course- consumers. A Europe-
wide approach is needed to help Europe's industries seize the opportunity.

Watch television anytime and anywhere

Pilot trials in some Member States suggest that up to half of Europe's mobile phone
subscribers - some 200 million people - may eventually be interested in using mobile
TV. Some 69 million global subscribers are forecast by 2009, generating revenues of 4-5
billion euro.

Ensuring Europe's mobile TV market is not fragmented into national markets will avoid
hobbling European industry globally

The opportunities for European broadcasters, mobile network operators, content providers
and equipment suppliers are therefore huge. None of these very diverse organisations,
however, can act in isolation - they need to work together, across Europe, to create a
successful new industry.

Only a common European strategy for mobile TV combining cutting edge research and
efficient regulation, actively promoted by all Member States and stakeholders, will enable
consumers and industry to reap the full benefits of economies of scale.

The Commission wants to put in place a light touch regulatory approach favouring
investment, innovation and competition in this emerging market. Clarifying the impact of
different regulatory approaches and measures, and identifying best practices is a first step
to identify the most efficient regulatory approach.

One issue potentially benefiting from a European approach is the availability of radio
spectrum for these networks and services. The switchover from analogue to digital TV,
expected by 2012, should release some spectrum for promising new digital applications.
The Commission and Member States are working together to define how this 'digital
dividend' will be used across Europe, including for mobile TV. Ensuring Europe's mobile
TV market is not fragmented into national markets will avoid hobbling European industry

Mobile television, of course, is also a technical challenge, so standards and
interoperability are crucial. The European Commission is therefore also helping European
industry pool its resources to develop both the underlying technology and define the
technical standards at both European and global levels. Two standards are
recognised by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute : DVB-H
(Handheld digital video broadband)and T-DMB (Terrestrial digital multimedia

Finally, the services will never be popular without compelling content and services. These
may be existing content, adapted to the new platform, or entirely new forms which take
advantage of its possibilities, such as location-based services. Either way, Europe's content
and software developers need to adapt to the new medium.

Broadcasting Projects

The European Unions' Research Framework Programmes fund a large number of projects
researching the future of broadcasting. They range from creating new compression
technologies over 3D images to using the television set for elearning. Please find out more

WORLDSCREEN: Welcome to the new world of digital cinema

There is not a complete and optimised high quality workflow
for the world of digital cinema, particularly for the effective
and seamless handling of film data from acquisition to post-
production and transmission. Data compression is the key to
achieving this.

Data compression is the main goal of the IST-funded project WORLDSCREEN. The
demands for high quality digital cinema applications require huge amounts of data that
cannot be effectively handled. The WORLDSCREEN consortium is addressing these
challenges by using layered scheme data compression algorithms, while at the same time
preserving the highest quality possible.

3DTV: 3D television edges closer to reality

The IST-sponsored project 3DTV is at the forefront of European efforts to bring the
promise of three-dimensional moving images closer to reality. After the introduction of
colour displays and high definition images, 3D promises to be the next revolution in visual

3DTV serves as a network of excellence and unites the expertise of researchers working
the relevant fields, such as imaging and computer graphics, signal processing,
telecommunications, electronics, optics and physics. The project consortium has achieved
to pool the resources of its various partners, through activities such as technical meetings,
joint research work, exchanges, dissemination activities and establishing a
common research infrastructure.

As well as changing the way television is viewed, the type of imaging technology being
developed by 3DTV could have applications in many other fields. Example areas are
medicine, dentistry, cultural heritage, air-traffic control, military technologies,
entertainment and computer games, to name but a few.

METAVISION: Extras for premiere digital film production

Combining best from the analogue and digital worlds, the IST Project Metavision is
creating a technique resulting in more flexible shooting and editing, and innovative 3D
and motion effects. The goal was to revolutionise the way films and TV programmes are
captured, produced, stored and distributed.

To preserve the highest quality possible from production to distribution, the system uses the
same ‘metadata’ at each stage of the chain. Metadata is information that describes the
content (footage) throughout the production and archiving process. It includes everything
from the type of camera and lighting employed to details of the production crew.

The MetaVision system goes further, using ‘intimate’ metadata – information captured at
the same time as the original footage. This information allows film-makers to convert
films into different formats, such as streaming media or digital cinema, without worrying
about loss of quality. They can also use metadata during post-production for adding 3D
effects, such as virtual objects or scenery.

T-LEARNING: Interactive TV learning at home

According to the global survey t-learning, digital TV offers much more opportunities than
just the pleasure of watching content. Learning a language, developing basic literacy and
numeracy skills or revising for exams are just some of the services which could be
delivered to your home via interactive digital TV.

With 95-99 per cent of European homes already having a TV, 't-learning', that is learning
through interactive digital TV and other related consumer devices, is emerging as a
potentially important medium for creating new opportunities for home learning. The t-
learning study found that in the medium to long term there was "big potential" for
utilising digital TV for learning particularly through personal TV.

To make t-learning a viable reality, policy makers, education and training providers,
infrastructure providers and broadcasters need to work together to develop new ways of
delivering personalised, interactive learning opportunities.

Honing Competitiveness & Changing the
World of Work
Few companies today can remain competitive without using advanced Information and
Communication Technologies (ICTs).
"Three quarters of the “new or significantly improved internal processes” introduced by EU
firms in 2004 were directly related to ICTs" - European e-Business Report 2005

Virtual reality for designers and engineers
This is more of an opportunity than a threat - by helping European businesses link up
across national borders, ICTs allow them to grow within the Single Market and compete
globally. With Europe's economy dominated by Small and Medium Sized Enterprises,
however, much must be done to ensure that Europe is not left behind.

Investing in ICTs is therefore a key factor in introducing innovation into companies,
driving productivity growth, honing competitiveness, cutting red tape and creating jobs.
Europe's companies know this - three quarters of the “new or significantly improved
internal processes” introduced by EU firms in 2004, for example, were directly related to
ICTs. Almost half of firms’ purchases now occur online, while 19% of companies were
using special ICT solutions for e-commerce by 2005.

Many European firms, however, face a number of obstacles in adopting these technologies,
while fragmented policies and regulations across Europe can prevent entire industrial
sectors from reaping the benefits and staying competitive. Many of the technologies,
finally, can only be developed by pooling Europe's scientific, technological and financial

This theme therefore explores what Europe is doing to help:

• Promote eBusiness in Europe: ICTs profoundly change Business-to-Business and
Business-to-Consumer relationships, influence companies' internal organisation,
and modify the way governments operate
• Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: The exploitation of ICTs by business remains
uneven, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which
dominate Europe's economy
• Manufacturing Industry: ICTs can revolutionise the manufacturing process
• Transport Industry: ICTs can make Europe's transport systems safer, more efficient
and less environmentally harmful ..

Ensuring Europe's workforce is able to use these technologies is also a critical part of the
competitiveness equation - see the Education & Training

Digital Literacy: Skills for the Information
A digital world needs digital skills. And so do we.
The high-tech world needs those with the best digital skills - without discrimination of sex
or culture.

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) affect our lives every day - from
interacting with our governments to working from home, from keeping in touch with our
friends to accessing healthcare and education.

To participate and take advantage, citizens must be digitally literate - equipped with the
skills to benefit from and participate in the Information Society. This includes both the
ability to use new ICT tools and the media literacy skills to handle the flood of images, text
and audiovisual content that constantly pour across the global networks.

Digital literacy is therefore one element in the i2010 Strategy's emphasis on Inclusion,
better public services and quality of life. But this is not just about Inclusion - ICT-related
skills are vital for the competitiveness and innovation capability of the European economy