A top Euro politician has drafted a ten-point action-plan to improve Internet access for homes and businesses.
European Commisioner Erkii Liikanen's report, - called Europe: An Information Society for All - recognises several hurdles that impede Europe's take-up of the Net. It describes slow and expensive Internet access, insufficient Internet literacy among the population and the failure of public administrations to exploit new applications and services. It also sets out ten steps to eliminate these barriers and ties each step to strict deadlines.
A quarter of US citizens have Internet access, against nine out of 100 in the EU.
Liikanen also recognized the importance of mobile communications, and the growth in the EU of use of the global system for mobile communications (GSM) satndard - take-up of GSM phones in Europe surpasses that of PC's.
The plan includes a commitment to Internet access for the young, setting a deadline of 2001 by which all schools have access to the Net. 2003 is the date by which all secondary school graduates should be digitally literate.
By the end of 2000, all local loop telecom services are to be unbundled, by the end of 2001 radio frequencies for multimedia wireless systems are to be allocated. The EC also intends adding eu.com as a top-level domain name. The report is to be presented to European heads of state this weekend, and shall be finalized for action at the Lisbon European Council meeting in June.