The SABER Project has called upon the members of the EU and their regional governments to implement co-ordinated Regional Voucher Schemes to encourage awareness and take-up of satellite broadband solutions to cut the digital divide across Europe’s most rural regions.
According to June 2014 Digital Agenda Scoreboard up to 6 million EU houses are still without access to fixed broadband services, despite satellite broadband availability in all EU countries. Voucher Schemes are administered by regional authorities and use publicly available funds to underwrite the hardware and/or installation costs of broadband solutions.
The rallying call to action was made at the final conference of the two-year SABER Project, an EU-funded Thematic Network. At the Brussels conference titled “Broadband for European Regions, from availability to penetration: the satellite contribution”, SABER brought together representatives from 21 European regional authorities, satellite experts and key influencers to examine how to accelerate broadband adoption in rural areas.
The conference suggested the adoption of a Voucher Scheme with an EU or national framework to work as an overarching programme with regional implementation, administration and delivery. This “Think global, act local” approach would be more effective in raising awareness of the satellite broadband solution and more efficient to administer.
Alongside the role of an EU coordinated Voucher Scheme, the conference also examined the role of satellite broadband in regional strategies and the future speed requirements of satellite broadband solutions to continue to meet the needs of EU residents.
Led by CSI-Piemonte, the 24-month SABER project is partially EU-funded.