B3: Do all groups in society have affordable and equitable access to media, conventional and ICTs, for knowledge sharing?

Four important directive, approved the 7 of march 2001, has setted the legal basis for a new integrated sistem in European telecommnication sector, and, while promoting competitiveness in the sector, has defined specific duties for member states in providing affordable access to all communities.
These directives are Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive), Directive 2002/21/EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive), Directive 2002/20/EC on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (Authorisation Directive), Directive 2002/19/EC on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (Access Directive)

In particular, the universal service directive ( 2002/22/EC), oblige memeber states “ to provide users on request with a connection to the public telephone network at a fixed location, at an affordable price. The requirement is limited to a single narrowband network connection, the provision of which may be restricted by Member States to the end-user's primary location/residence [...] Affordable price means a price defined by Member States at national level in the light of specific national conditions, and may involve setting common tariffs irrespective of location or special tariff options to deal with the needs of low-income users.”

With the eErope 2005 Action Plan, the EU has started a new policy, aimed to provide access through multiple platforms.
Among the goals of eEurope there are in fact the provision of “interactive public services, accessible for all, and offered on multiple platforms”. In particular “by supporting the emergence of alternative access platforms, such as digital television or 3G mobile systems, the new action plan will further facilitate e-inclusion, also for people with special needs”.
“By end 2004, Member States should have ensured that basic public services are interactive, where relevant, accessible for all, and exploit both the potential of broadband networks and of multi-platform access”.

The problem here is that, nevertheless the EU has setted up projects for promoting the use of ICTs for social inclusion, its strategy is still based mostly on infrastrctural intervention.
There is a lack of planning on the side of critical use of ICTs for the promotion of their social potential and the market is always seen as the driving force in the diffusion of Information Society.
“On the one hand we have the implied message that we confront the emergence of a radically new and distinct kind of social formation, but on the other, this is defined and measured solely in terms of changes in the supply and use of new technological infrastructure or services. For all operational purposes, the Information Society is fundamentally framed, imagined and measured in terms of the maximum production and use of new ICTs” (P. Preston, European Union ICT Policies: Neglected Social and Cultral Dimensions)


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