French Senate and ESA to organise colloquium on bridging the digital divide

The French Senate, in partnership with ESA, is holding a colloquium on the subject of "Satellites and Bridging the Digital Divide". The gathering will evaluate the potential role of satellite systems in achieving nationwide digital access. European attempts to date to achieve that goal will also be assessed.Bridging the digital divide is a challenge that has to be addressed for the future development of Europe's regions. For citizens isolated by natural obstacles, those living in scattered rural communities or on the outlying periphery of the European Union, there has been no commercially-viable solution to bring them online. Moreover, the arrival of ten new EU member countries will perhaps increase the current inequality of digital access.

The colloquium will address the question of: "Can space-based infrastructures provide the most appropriate solution to narrow the gap?" Terrestrial infrastructures, for example, are affected by population density or low-level economic activity. Satellite systems, however, guarantee uniform coverage over a given area; within this area, all potential users enjoy the same access to services and the same quality of service. TV broadcasting is a practical illustration of this.

It is therefore important to determine if the satellite option can provide a technically appropriate response. Because most digitally-deprived localities tend also to be the least densely populated issues related to how this should be financed become highly relevant. However, it remains to be seen if a third component needs to be added to European strategy for space (the others are Galileo and GMES) to deal effectively with issues surrounding the digital divide. The colloquium should clarify many of these questions.

The colloquium will be on 22 January 2004 at the French Senate (Palais du Luxembourg) in Paris France.

Event Date

05 November 2003
Published 07 December 2004
Last updated at 07 December 2004 - 00:00