28 Sep 2015
PHIL HOGAN SPEECH AT EVENT ON RURAL BROADBAND – 28 SEPTEMBERBrussels Daily
Speech by Commissioner Phil Hogan at the “Going Local 2015″ event on Rural Broadband – National Digital Centre, Dublin
The European Commission recognises the importance of rural broadband rollout, and has prioritised it in the EU Digital Single Market package. This is one of the top 10 political priorities for the 2014-2020 period.
The ambition is to close the digital gap between urban and rural areas, by providing fast or ultra-fast broadband across the EU by 2020. And I would add, these are not just lofty words: we are adding real value by putting our money where our mouth is.
As Commissioner Cretu said, roughly €21.4 billion from the five EU Structural and Investment Funds will be devoted to Information and Communication Technologies. Within this, approximately €6.4 billion EUR will finance the roll-out of high speed Broadband.
From my own portfolio, the CAP budget will contribute between €1.6 and 2 billion Euro of Rural Development funding. This money will, among other things, fund training for communities so that they are ready to make the most of connectivity when it is in place.
In order to facilitate both public and private investments, the Commission is preparing a “Broadband One-Stop Shop“. This will take the form of contact points – both in Brussels and at regional or national level – to respond to requests for help from any public authority wishing to roll out high-speed broadband in its territory. The contact points will encourage and assist the use of loans or other financial instruments. We expect implementation to begin in early 2016 and we welcome Ireland’s strong commitment to this structure.
Picture the scene: a rural user’s experience of using the internet will be entirely revolutionised with a decent fibre connection. An agri-business entrepreneur will use his high-speed link to develop export opportunities abroad, while having a simultaneous Skype call with his bank manager! Meanwhile his daughter is doing her homework using an online module while his mother is being remotely treated by her specialist telemedicine carers from the clinic in the nearest big town.
This picture is not pie-in-the-sky – it is achievable. There are numerous examples of best practice in rural Broadband happening at this very moment. Indeed, one of them is happening right here in Ireland.
Last Thursday I attended the National Ploughing Championships, where I was honoured to launch a rural broadband trial by the fibre broadband provider SIRO. Read the speech in full here.