Europe is bridging the divide between the digital haves and the have-nots.
According to the European Commission, some three million people do not have access to traditional broadband networks because they live in rural or isolated areas.
But satellite-based broadband is changing this.
Speaking at the launch of a new website (broadbandforall.eu) to facilitate access to satellite broadband serives, EU Vice President and digital tsar Neelie Kroes explained just why it was so important for the continent to be connected.
She said: “It will restore our economy, it will help to start new businesses and also create jobs, and we badly need a recovery of our economy and we badly need a lot of jobs.”
Satellite technology is already is use in many areas, including bringing wifi services to some train passengers.
Now the technology is available in all 28 EU countries. Bringing basic broadband to everyone in Europe was one of the main goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe.
Michel de Rosen is chairman of the European Satellite Operators Association and CEO of Eutelsat.
He said: “The services provided by satellites change the lives of people. Let me give you a few examples – a graphic designer can have access to a file, get a file, send a file and therefore grow his or her business, a bed and breakfast manager or owner can advertise about his or her bed and breakfast, a student can have access to libraries in universities.”
The newest generation of satellites is also playing an important role in disaster management. Satellite broadband provided vital internet connectivity to hospitals, emergency services and civil protection agencies during the 2012 earthquake in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.