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.