Υ.Α.Π. - Υπηρεσία Ανάπτυξης Πληροφορικής

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Speeding up NGN ubiquity Conference: A pillar for digital growth

Conference on Broadband Development organised by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks of the Hellenic Republic.

The Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), a flagship initiative of Europe 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, has set the goal to make every European digital and ensure Europe's competitiveness in the 21st century. Essential to this goal is fast connectivity and the DAE broadband targets, such as the basic broadband for all by 2013 (target met - satellite broadband is available to raise the coverage to 100% in every Member State); next generation networks (NGN) (30 Mbps or more) for all by 2020; and reaching 50% of households having 100 Mbps subscriptions or higher. Establishment of procedures to evaluate and monitor DAE scoreboard is an essential tool for every country, in order to undertake proper actions towards reaching the DAE targets. The objective of this session is to highlight the main achievements in addressing implementation of the Digital Agenda.

Transport and access networks are in constant evolution, always in demand of innovation to serve skyrocketing volumes of data traffic. Mobile broadband is one of the primary drivers of data traffic growth, in large part stemming from the ease with which end-users exchange the video content that by some estimates accounts for more than 50 per cent of mobile bandwidth use. As mobile broadband access moves from IMT-2000 (‘3G’) to IMT-Advanced (‘4G’), with higher-capacity connections generating significantly more traffic, carriers are scaling-up investments in optical fibre to enable the mobile backhaul that supports superfast mobile broadband.

Enabling and accounting for the trend towards broadband ubiquity is a not a task confined to the ICT industry. Broadband ubiquity will power innovations of great importance to our future as a society: smart grid will increase the efficiency of electricity generation, distribution and consumption; e-health will improve healthcare for underserved communities and enable leaps forward in medical science by connecting leading research databases; and intelligent transport systems (ITS) will decrease carbon emissions and improve road safety. This convergence of technologies and industry sectors, in parallel with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine communications (M2M), is a challenging coordination game demanding the development of new cross-sector partnerships and ICT standards either adapted or purpose-built to the requirements of new domains ICT as leverage for financial development and improvement of quality of living. The role of NGN in the framework of DAE 2020 targets shall be the main issue of this session (Growth, Jobs, Innovation). High-speed internet access is necessary to maximize effective use of ICT, which in turn is an explicit driver of productivity, innovation, and social inclusion. Tomorrow's digital services – from connected TV to cloud computing and e-Health – increasingly rely on fast, effective broadband connections. Under the direction of the European Commission’s eSkills for the 21st Century project (the EU long-term skills agenda), an initiative has been launched to develop a pan-European foundational body of knowledge for ICT and a sustainable operating model for the promotion of ICT professionalism in Europe. The initiative is also a contribution to the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. Strengthening education systems, so that every young person can develop his or her full potential, is at the heart of the European cooperation process. Innovation-friendly institutions that aim to enhance teaching and learning through new technologies can make an important contribution. For this reason, EU Member States agreed on the promotion of creativity and innovation, including through the use of new ICT tools and teacher training, as one of the priority areas for the first cycle of the Strategic Framework for Education and Training ('ET 2020'). 

By ensuring that ICT services are available to as many people as possible, European countries need to contribute to cohesion, to innovation and to social, economic and political change. In order to become “Content-oriented” continent, most of the benefits of new ICT services will be derived from outside the ICT sector. The universe of ICT applications, such as e-government, e-health, e-learning, eagriculture, has the potential to multiply impact expected from ICTs, underlining the importance of the multi-sectoral strategies for national development, where broadband remains in the forefront. In addition to the fixed high-speed infrastructure, that is still under development in many countries, mobile and wireless technologies offer efficient solutions to bridge digital gaps. On the other hand they are also becoming a source of new ubiquitous ecosystem, bringing ICTs closer to users, affecting quality of living by bringing various social and economic benefits. Even though significant progress has been achieved in many countries and the number of broadband users is growing fast in Europe, still significant efforts need to be dedicated by all stakeholders (in particular, public and private sectors) in order to avoid broadband divides at regional as well as at national levels.