As many as 24 million U.S. citizens have no access to broadband Internet service and are unlikely to get the higher-speed connection any time soon, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday. “The immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak,” the Washington-based commission said in a statement. Between 14 million and 24 million live without Web service that can transmit at least 4 megabits per second, the agency said. The FCC recommended several measures to move closer to its goal of universally available broadband: releasing more spectrum for mobile broadband, allowing for more infrastructure to support the service and further data collection to help more U.S. citizens get broadband. The U.S. population is about 310 million, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. In March, the FCC released a plan to expand the availability of broadband throughout the U.S. The agency aims to boost the share of those using broadband at home to 90 percent from about 65 percent currently, and having at least 100 million households with connections of 100 megabits per second.
The European Union’s Committee of the Regions has called on the European Commission (EC) to close the digital divide by ensuring that all citizens in the region have affordable broadband access. The EC has outlined its desire to get everyone online with high-speed connections by 2013 as part of the Europe 2020 plan, and the Committee has backed the initiative in a report written by Belgian MEP Jean-François Istasse. However, the report goes on to say that the EC must not rely on markets alone to deliver high-speed internet in hard-to-reach rural communities, mountainous regions and islands. The Committee has called on the EC to create policies that acknowledge market failure, and to set up public initiatives to help develop open networks in these areas. The Committee also warned of the potential impact on town planning and the environment from widespread deployments of antennas and masts