More ambitious broadband speed targets may be needed for beyond 2020, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society has claimed.
Writing in a blog post for the European Commission, Günther H. Oettinger said that, more than ever, Europe needs adequate connectivity, with high-speed networks forming the backbone of its digital economy and society.
The German politician - who took over Neelie Kroes as the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda in 2014 - claimed that every citizen, business, organisation and industry needs high-speed connectivity.
He explained that, in 2010, the Digital Agenda for Europe set "very ambitious" broadband targets for the time; universal 30Mb coverage by 2020 and at least 50 per cent coverage of 100Mb broadband across the European Union (EU).
But in light of soaring demand for data, and the "continuously increasing connectivity needs" of European citizens, Mr Oettinger believes more ambitious goals may now be required.
"The availability of bandwidth, as well as the ease and affordability of upgrading existing broadband networks, is essential to building a vibrant digital economy and society," he stated.
"Against this background, I can only wonder which broadband targets we will need beyond 2020."
The Commissioner questioned whether, in future, the average small business with 30 employees will be able to fully benefit from all the opportunities of a digital single market with only a 30Mb connection.
Similarly, he pondered whether schools - which have at least 100 pupils learning online, at the same time, every day - can prepare students for a connected digital world with a 100Mb broadband line.
"I am wondering why some communities, on their own initiative, are rolling out rural networks that deliver 1Gb connectivity, when the EU's existing targets are more than 30 times less ambitious," Mr Oettinger noted.
"Thinking about our 5G ambitions, I am wondering how to maximise the potential of mobile connectivity while our current targets mostly focus on fixed locations."
He said his main objective is to establish how much capacity fixed and mobile digital networks need to meet Europe's current and future connectivity needs beyond 2020.
Mr Oettinger said a cross-sector, cross-generational debate on future-oriented connectivity for Europe is required.
The Commissioner promised to consult widely in the coming months to ensure Europe has the right digital networks for its future.