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Governing Telecommunications and the New Information Society in Europe

Edited by Jacint Jordana

European countries have recently been involved in an extremely broad set of regulatory changes to introduce competitive markets into the area of telecommunications. New policies to develop the information society in Europe are also emerging, taking into account the changes in regulations. The contributions included in this book examine several dimensions of these major European issues, including multi-level governance, the instruments used to produce these policy changes, and the European idiosyncrasies of globalisation trends.
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Chapter 7: Internet @ Europe: Overcoming Institutional Fragmentation and Policy Failure

Raymund Werle


3802_GovernTelecoms/Chap 7 22/8/02 8:57 am Page 3 7. Internet @ Europe: overcoming institutional fragmentation and policy failure Raymund Werle INTRODUCTION The Internet has had a hard time in Europe. Only in the second half of the 1990s, after a long period of ignorance and resistance, did Europeans gradually start to accept and use the network of networks. In this chapter I analyse the Internet’s career in Europe.1 After providing a short sketch of the evolution of the Internet in the United States and an overview over the present state of its diffusion and utilization in Europe and the United States, I examine why it took so long before European policymakers realized the Internet’s potential for innovation and economic growth. The central institutional obstacles to the Internet will be identified and policy failures evolving from this backdrop will be illustrated. I will then show that it required radical institutional change to open a window of opportunity for the Internet and unleash its dynamic potential. The last section – followed by a short conclusion – illustrates the contours of a new European Internet policy emerging from a changing institutional setting and a new user-oriented strategy to promote the Internet as the electronic backbone of a European information society. EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNET AND ITS PRESENT STATE IN EUROPE As is well known, the Internet started as ARPANET – a network that served research and, to a minor degree, military purposes when it was launched by the United States Department of Defense’s ARPA (Advanced Research...

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