EC launched debate on future of universal service

The European Commission (EC) has issued a Communication on the second periodic review of the scope of universal service (US) of electronic communications networks and services in accordance with Article 15 of Directive 2002/22/EC (Universal Service Directive). This document addresses the future of the US (concept and scope) and the challenges faced, specifically examining whether this is the appropriate instrument to accelerate broadband access.

The EC's objective is to launch a European debate which allows all interested parties to put forward their opinions and discuss alternative approaches. These contributions will form the basis of a new Commission Communication, planned for the second half of 2009. Meanwhile, it is expected that the current French Presidency will propose approval of the conclusions of the Council on the issue by the end of the year.

The Commission is charged with reviewing the scope of the universal service every three years and this year's conclusions do not differ substantially from the previous review carried out in 2005 with no changed proposed to the scope of the universal service.

The present Communication stresses the strong presence achieved by mobile communications and also the weakness in broadband use by the majority of the population, notwithstanding its widespread provision at affordable prices.

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