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Germany

German IT Branch Needs New Impulses

Just a few days before the start of Europe's largest computer technology trade fair, leading German business figures say the government needs to do more to promote the Internet within the country.

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German IT businesses want to make sure internet cafes are always this full

Germany needs to do more to promote its IT branches and catch up to the leading internet nations, says Michael Rogowski President of the Association for German Industry just a few days before the start of the international computer and technology fair, CeBit.

Despite all attempts to improve Germany’s position in the internet market, the Germans are still lagging behind in the number of online users.

"Online in Germany desperately needs new impulses" in order to ensure a continued economic and technological development in the new media, says Rogowski.

In a position paper published by the Association for German Industry, Rogowski highlighted the necessity for state and industry to work together to reach Germany’s goal of becoming a leading internet nation.

The Association’s committee on multimedia and telecommunications, under the direction of Klaus Eierhoff of Bertelsmann, developed a strategy for a increasing the number of partnerships between public and private organizations. Both have a role to play in improving internet access in Germany, Eierhoff said.

If the government leads, others will follow

The government is responsible for setting an example for its citizens by demonstrating the importance of the internet as an information and communications medium. Through projects such as e-government, online public services, and electronic registration processes, the government can attract new users to the internet.

But the government can also help keep users interested in the internet by providing inexpensive online access through reduced flat rates and increased competition among providers.

Eierhoff regards lower costs for online access as a key to getting more people to surf the internet. "We need good, stable competition in our local internet network, but no new fees and higher rates for use of the net," he said.

The Association wants to do more to promote internet usage in Germany, but Eierhoff said the right framework needs to first be in place. All of the industry's developments will be in vain if the general public isn't willing to fully embrace the Internet.

First and foremost is putting more emphasis on educating teachers and government service employees to recognize the benefits of the internet, Eierhoff said. One way of achieving this would be to show how the internet can be used effectively in the classroom and office. Another way would be to provide all government employees with a personal computer for home use.

The proposals from Rogowski and Eierhoff may be good, but the question still remains as to how Germany will finance the suggested improvements.

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