European policy options for digital access and inclusion. Full report

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REPORT: EuroDIG 2015 - Workshop 9: European Policy Options for Digital Access and Inclusion. 5 June 2015, Sofia (Bulgaria)

Summary of discussions [This summary aims at providing a general overview of discussions and points raised during the workshop, which was held as a direct response to the Call by the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group inviting national and regional IGF initiatives to contribute to the horizontal global inter-sessional theme for this year: "Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion" (1). This summary is not intended to provide a full and comprehensive review of all policy efforts to ensure digital access and inclusion that have been put in place in Europe. It is simply an attempt to capture in broad terms the nature and scope of the comments made during the workshop and to share some examples of European experiences to promote digital access and inclusion. The full discussion is available online The Internet is a global resource which should be managed in the public interest. It has public service value (2), which can be understood as people’s significant reliance on the Internet as an essential tool for their everyday activities (communication, information, knowledge, commercial transactions) and the resulting legitimate expectation that Internet services be accessible and affordable, secure, reliable and ongoing. Internet access is a major enabler for societies, economies, innovators and citizens alike. Rolling out high-speed internet networks is essential to foster innovation and productivity and help restoring Europe's competitiveness. There are still large distinctions in access in Europe : North, South, East, West, old, young, rich, poor, disability people, urban and rural areas. However, such distinctions are slowly disappearing with newer generations. In Europe we also need to address specific issues like the full completion of a Digital Single Market. Different challenges require different solutions: aspects like geography (island countries) and demography (population density, rural areas, aging population) also play a role. Therefore "policy options" need to be adapted to the national and local circumstances. Access requirements are different depending on the different users' requests. However, the differences do not only relate to physical infrastructure. When addressing access, different layers