Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

Navigation path

Ever wondered why they keep digging up the road? - cutting the cost of broadband

If you're very keen-eyed you'll have spotted this in the Conclusions issued on Friday by the European Council – i.e. agreed by the Heads of State and Government of all 27 EU member states: "to … complete the Digital Single Market by 2015 …. including by reducing the cost of high-speed broadband infrastructure" That may not mean anything to you on its own – but in fact this refers to an important forthcoming Commission proposal that could make it much easier to get every European digital. I often talk about the benefits of superfast broadband – what about the costs? Well, when you look at it, a lot of the cost of physically rolling out broadband – up to 80% - is civil engineering: prosaic things like digging up the road, installing new physical infrastructure like ducts to carry wires, and so on. But there is often duplication here. Not just different telecom companies, but other utilities like water, energy, or railways often have separate infrastructure – and separately dig up the road to install them. If you can make it easier to access, re-use and share this infrastructure, and join in on common civil works projects, you can cut costs by up to 30%. This will all be formalised later this year with a Commission proposal. With suggestions like a "duct atlas" to make it easier to share infrastructure; or a requirement to publish details in advance if you're planning on digging up the road to lay new cable, making it easier to kill two birds with one stone. This should be a big step forward for broadband rollout; maybe it will also mean fewer roadworks on the way to work too! So it's great to hear that all the member states have already shown their support for this important objective.


  • What do you expect from Mrs. Kroes at all? Technical (or maybe just democratic) competence, proximity to the common man, commitment to EU citizens, sincerity? Think again! She's a Bilderberger, which means she gives a bloody damn about true democracy or citizens' interests, all that counts is her wallet and those who fill it (and that's not us, primarily). Why do you think she appointed zu Guttenberg as her counsel last year? This guy's incompetent as ****—but he's also filthy rich...
  • Since 6 years I’m involved in duct sharing projects. I fully support the point of view that duct sharingresults in cutting the cost of broadband but there is more: also the way HOW you share ducts is key. Having an existing duct infrastructure is like having gold in the ground, for every meter of a duct one reuses roughly € 100 are saved on deployment costs and no digging means a much faster roll out of Broad Band networks like FTTH. But the point is that existing duct infrastructure does not have an unlimited capacity. In order to avoid that the existing capacity is used up in a short period of time it is a must that the right duct sharing technologies are used. Incumbent operators can easily use ‘wrong’ duct sharing techniques to saturate their existing duct infrastructure to keep other operators out.   Flexible inner duct technology is the only technology which really maximizes existing duct capacity and limits the need for new civil works to an absolute minimum. As an example: since the start of duct sharing in France end 2008 flexible inner duct technology saved in 3 years over 100 million EUROS in trenching costs for France Telecom and their competitors FREE and SFR.
  • I'm sorry, but this is a joke. The future technology we will use to receive our digital data, is via our own satellite receivers. Cables in the ground, this is the equivalent of making sure there are plenty of rest stops for horses in the 1920's, when the car was obviously going to be king. Why are you wasting our money on cables in the ground?
  • This also needs to apply to motorways that are deemed "protected structures" . My company has to dig up 135kms cross country as we cannot get access to a motorway (defined as the aforementioned) even though we are prepared to provide fibre to all carriers on an open access basis. The directive needs to be specific in this regard but I welcome this development which is efficiently enforced in Germany and the Netherlands

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Share this