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Broadband will be top of the list of priorities for the European Commission next year, according to Erkki Liikanen, the Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society Study.

Speaking at the publication of a new EC-commissioned report into broadband access in Europe he said: "The study clearly tells us that the future of the Internet is broadband.

"What Europe needs now is a forward-looking strategy to ensure that broadband Internet comes quickly and to all European citizens. It will be one of our top priorities in 2002."

According to the study, The Development of Broadband Access Platforms in Europecable modem and DSL will become the dominant broadband technologies.

The report found that the penetration of cable and ADSL has risen in all 15 Member States, except in the UK and Ireland, which remained flat between October 2000 and June 2001.

And that by 2003 it's predicted that Europe will have around 17 million broadband subscribers - around one in ten of all households - an increase of 16 million compared to 2000.

The report acknowledges that demand for broadband needs to be stimulated and suggests this can be done by the "widest possible roll out of all platforms" and low cost access.

In a broad-brush approach to the problem it maintains that pressure should be kept on incumbents to unbundle local loops fully.

It wants to encourage competition between different broadband platforms such as DSL and Fixed Wireless.

And it also suggests that tax incentives and subsidies should be considered to invest in broadband services in "less profitable regions".

However, ADSL and cable modem will only be transitory solutions, the report concludes.

Instead, it claims that fibre optic would provide almost unlimited bandwidth and is a "future proof technology".

By 2010, say the report, fibre optic could account for a third of all Internet connections to EU homes and small and medium sized businesses.

To view a copy of The Development of Broadband Access Platforms in Europe go here ®

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