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Forum calls for new focus on broadband
Wednesday, October 30 2002
by John Cradden

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A major public-private forum on global e-commerce development has urged governments to increase their focus on stimulating demand for broadband.

Over 300 representatives from global technology companies and government officials from 20 countries in Asia, Europe and the US met this week at the fourth annual conference of the Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe), which was held in Brussels.

Among its many recommendations on developing e-commerce worldwide, the group said governments should help generate a critical mass of end users and applications by offering new services on-line and generating broadband usage.

Ways in which this could be achieved include getting public sector organisations to lead the way in broadband usage in order to stimulate activity in the private sector, developing e-government applications, and compensating providers for significant infrastructural investments they have made.

Governments should pay attention to the supply side only if there is no common sustainable business case to deploy broadband infrastructure, the forum recommended.

The forum also dealt with issues related to harmful Internet content, boosting consumer confidence in buying over the Internet, e-government, curbing digital piracy, on-line enforcement of intellectual property rights, taxation policy, and educating and raising awareness among users about the dangers of computer viruses and security breaches.

The aim of the GBDe, which has its origins in the European Commission, is to develop an international framework that will provide guidance on the myriad issues that have emerged with the growth of on-line business.

The organisation is attempting to position itself as the chief global forum for industry and government leaders to discuss such issues. This year's summit was chaired by Luis Lada, vice-president of corporate strategy at Telefonica, and Agnes Audier, chief operating officer of Vivendi Universal Net, and featured representatives from blue chip industry names such as AOL Time Warner, Disney, Nokia, Hitachi, NEC and Siemens.

The GBDe has maintained that the recommendations of this year's summit represented a "significant advancement" on the previous year.

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