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Slovenia Needs to Upgrade Broadband Strategy, Govt Body Warns

Ljubljana, 05 April (STA) - National policies for construction of broadband networks have failed to achieve their goals, while the gap between the EU and Slovenian average is widening, warns the national Electronic Communications Council, a government advisory body.

The council said in a press release on Wednesday that Slovenia will not achieve goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe with existing development policies.

Telecommunications companies have built several parallel optical networks in Slovenia's urban centres, while their investments in fast broadband networks in suburbs and especially in rural areas remained negligible, the council found.

"With its current development policies, Slovenia will be unable to keep up with the EU and reach the ambitious goals set down by the Digital Agenda for Europe," the advisory body said.

The Digital Agenda for Europe envisages every EU citizens to have a basic broadband connection by 2013, while speeds are to increase to at least 30 Mb/s by 2020.

Slovenia received EUR 82m from the EU for the construction of open broadband networks, and promised to provide broadband speeds to 29,000 households.

But the council found that by the end of 2011, only about 6,500 such connections were established. By the end of 2011, most households connected to the internet by using either xDSL (55.7%) or cable (26.5%) networks.

Moreover, the council found Slovenia lagging behind in mobile broadband networks as well, citing a lack of "suitable environment" for further development of existing networks or construction of infrastructure for mobile communications of the fourth generation (4G).

"The use of mobile internet is growing fast and users are already facing network congestion," the council said, underlining the importance of mobile broadband networks in reaching the EU goal of basic broadband connectivity by 2013.

The council called on the government and relevant bodies to draft measures to make sure Slovenia will meet the goals of the European Digital Agenda and enable a faster development of mobile broadband networks.

Key measures proposed by the council include licenses for frequency bands of 800 Mhz and 2,600 Mhz, incentives for telecoms providers to cover broadband blind spots, and projects for focused investment in broadband connections that would utilise national financial instruments and financial instruments of the EU and the European Investment Bank.

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