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EU executive: all populated areas should have 5G by 2030

Telecommunications towers have been put on fire in several countries over health-risk allegations.
HANDOUT - 25 February 2021, Belgium, Brussels: European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference following Informal meeting of EU internal market and industry ministers, via video conference, at the European Council building in Brussels. Photo: Mario Salerno/European Council/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full
European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. Photo: Mario Salerno/European Council/dpa/file photo.

The European Commission on Tuesday set out its new roadmap on digitalization, focusing on better IT skills, faster internet, and essential public services being available online.

As part of its new strategy, the commission said it wants all populated areas to be covered by 5G - the "fifth generation" technology for wireless connections.

Currently, the coverage percentage stands at only 14%, European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said during a presentation of the goals.

The roll-out of 5G across the bloc has been controversial. Telecommunications towers have been put on fire in several countries over health-risk allegations.

There are also privacy concerns, with Chinese tech giant Huawei wanting to establish the infrastructure for 5G networks in Europe - which some claim could lead to private information being passed on to the Chinese government.

Ensure competitiveness

For European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, brushing up the European Union's digital standing was important to ensure the bloc's competitiveness in the world - but one should be mindful of the purpose it served, she said.

"Digitalization is not an end in itself," Vestager said during a press conference on Tuesday, warning that the process had to be inclusive.

To further digitalization in the bloc, the commission said it wants 80% of all adults to have basic IT skills by 2030. In 2019, the number of people with basic digital skills stood at only 56%.

To facilitate the bloc's transition into the digital world, the commission said an ambitious 100% of key public services - such as health records and tax filing - should be accessible online.

EU executive: all populated areas should have 5G by 2030
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