Broadband Development Challenges and Measures: The Analysis of EU Countries

Broadband Development Challenges and Measures: The Analysis of EU Countries

Peter Trkman (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Tomaž Turk (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-388-3.ch006
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The chapter analyses the use of broadband in EU countries in an attempt to find the main reasons, which explain the differences among countries. With the use of factor analysis the underlying factors were identified as: 1. enablers and means; 2. the use of services; and 3. the ICT sector’s development. Cluster analysis was used to identify similar countries. Based on these findings, a two-dimensional framework that enables the classification of policy actions depending on the influencing factor and type of influence was developed. Finally, a novel conceptualization of the field of broadband and e-commerce/e-government is proposed.
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Broadband development (defined for the purpose of this chapter as the use of broadband (BB) technology & services) can bring substantial benefits to the productivity, education, e-inclusion and economic development of society in general. Innovative productive practices in business, government, education, health care and daily life are now critically dependent on the ability to communicate information quickly and independently. The BB readiness of a country affects its ability to compete globally (Lee & Chan-Olmsted, 2004) since the Internet is becoming a significant component of society’s communications infrastructure (Gillet, Lehr, & Osorio, 2004). The BB connection technology is defined for the purpose of this chapter as technologies such as DSL, cable, fiber, wireless (like WiMAX, but the definition excludes 3G and Wi-Fi) and BPL (BB over power lines) with a download speed of at least 256 kbit/s.

Various aspects of BB has been studied in the past; they can be classified to the following areas: public communications infrastructure and tariffing principles, sales of communications services, public access and equal access policies, competitive access pricing, communications industry finance, engineering-economic studies, information contents, macroeconomic issues (Pau, 2002). In addition, a number of more technically oriented topics were also discussed (Chanclu, Gosselin, Fernandez, Alvarez, & Zouganeli, 2006); see e.g (Giuliano et al., 2008) as an example of a recent study on interoperability between WiMAX and BB mobile space networks.

Together, the potential benefits at national, individual and organisational levels contribute to something of a consensus that the adoption of BB should be promoted (Xavier, 2003) because its development as a means of promoting new applications is said to provide the basis of knowledge-based economies (Cava-Ferreruela & Alabau-Munoz, 2006). Although Europe is becoming the leading region in terms of BB development (Marcus, 2005), possibilities to boost the BB development even further are being extensively studied. There are two main observations concerning the BB development in EU countries. On one hand, the growth rate is relatively high while, on the other, there is a highly unequal distribution among the various EU countries (Eurobarometer, 2006). Even bigger differences can be found at the international level (Milner, 2006). Therefore, different stakeholders (EU institutions, national and regional governments, education and research institutions, infrastructure and services providers etc.) are facing the challenge of how to identify the hindrances to the wider adoption of the Internet and BB services and consequently how to stimulate quicker progress. The development of new policies within a new regulatory framework in order to achieve the timely BB development is needed (Chanclu et al., 2006).

This question has been attracting growing attention in both the scientific and governmental communities and several research studies have been performed in the last few years (either for the adoption of BB or Internet services in general), e.g. (Savage, Waldmann, 2005, Bread, 2006). While the results of these studies show the prevailing influence of GDP and economic development on the adoption of BB/the Internet, studies of other possibly influential variables have been inconclusive. According to Dutta and Roy (2004-2005), many studies link the Internet’s diffusion with a variety of technical and social factors but do not reveal the interplay among them that generates diffusion behaviour. Without understanding these mechanics, it is difficult to develop policies to accelerate the diffusion of the Internet within a developing country.

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