Vote lays the groundwork for EU to be totally wired

Economic benefits from broadband

The European Parliament voted Tuesday to use public funding to bring broadband into the European Union's remote and rural regions (HR 6/20).

The Parliament called on EU governments to ensure that hefty chunks of their annual EU grants are pumped into building key network infrastructure to overcome the "digital divide" that could leave much of Europe languishing far behind on critical online services.

The Euro MPs warned that the overall lack of broadband penetration across Europe means the continent still is woefully under-equipped in basic IT networks needed to benefit from the latest generation of on-demand services and be a global economic force.

"It is of the utmost importance for us to get people all over the union connected as soon as possible," said Swedish Euro MP Gunnar Hokmark, who drafted the Parliament's report.

Hokmark said that broadband opened the door for endless applications and services, from cheap Voice over Internet Protocol phone calls to VOD for aspiring directors.

The Parliament also called on the European Commission to see whether governments were hampering broadband by needlessly protecting their national markets from outside competition.