Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission
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Broadband for all: new regulatory certainty to allow investment in the next generation

Regular readers of this blog will know how central broadband targets are to our digital agenda. By 2020, I want half of all Europeans with broadband subscriptions at 100 Megabit/s or higher. We're going to need those high speeds: and the "next generation" fibre networks to support them. Those great new great apps and services – like the cloud, smart cities, or e-Health — won't all be able to run properly on the copper networks that underlie today's ADSL connections. But choking off those services will choke off tomorrow's growth. We need strong, healthy companies to invest in the necessary infrastructure – and to compete to invest where it makes sense. You may recall that, starting last October, we consulted on how to use the EU's regulatory framework to achieve some of these goals, exploring a number of ideas and a number of models. And today I announce the decisions I am taking. I'll won't repeat all the technical details in this blog: though they are set out in full here for the experts. The three key points are:
  1. Tougher non-discrimination rules to ensure "incumbent" operators do not get an unfair advantage.
  2. One of the issues raised in our consultation relates to the prices charged for wholesale access to copper networks. The evidence shows that lowering those prices will not induce greater investment in very fast broadband. But we do need to aim at more consistency in the approach to price regulation between Member States – some differences can be justified by local conditions, but current outcomes vary too much; and that's a single market issue.
  3. More flexibility on how "next generation" wholesale products can be priced: subject to meeting strict conditions to ensure fair competition.
These decisions will be put into legal form through formal Recommendations I'll make before the end of this year. And they will be durable, applying until at least 2020. Overall, for investment of any kind to take place, investors need to see a healthy return that takes account of risks. The regulatory framework alone can't do that – it takes other measures, too, like to boost online content, public funding and innovative public-private financing from the CEF and structural funds, and measures to reduce the cost of roll-out. But today's announcement is one important piece of the puzzle. It gives more consistency within our single market; it allows fair competition. And most importantly, it provides the regulatory certainty needed for long-term investment to happen. You can read the statement in full here, and my remarks at the press conference here.


johnpeters's picture

Commissioner :  Broadband for all in the EU is a necessity , a must for work, for education , for security and  independence and for health management and quality of life , broadband for all is a must. Europe now must deliver, right now . No more ifs, no more buts and no more excuses. If anyone needs proof, just look at the USA  , where the first problem they find when trying to implement their new Affordable Health Care Act, ACA, for all citizens ( Medicare Physician Payment System , USA Senate Finance Committee, 7.11.12,  Senator Baucus  , Chairman,  ) is that they have incompatibility in tele-medicine and video-conference even within the same vendors, they have different standards in the same Hospitals and Health Care companies, they can't make networks talk to other networks and to data , and no real-time databases, no real - time patient and medications data , etc., from patients, doctors, nurses , clinics and Insurance companies, no across dialog,  so the first thing for success is BROADBAND WITH OPEN STANDARDS AND FULL COMPATIBILITY, from data to payments and to privacy of patients , and here Linux and similar open-source software , databases and hardware is the easiest , safest's and cheapest solution to talk across networks and databases , will Europe get it ?   Another solution is a constant checklist of problems and tests , like airline pilots do before flying , to expose right away any problems, any bugs, any issues and demand and get solutions in real time, on the fly, right away. No hiding problems is the next solution. Fiber optic or fast symmetric copper ( xdsl ,  etc.,  the new 802.22 wireless standards and smart antennas , other cognitive radio solutions, etc. ) must be non-proprietary , otherwise we will end up with 2 monopolies :  one for fixed networks and another for wireless , and then because of the nature of the beast, they will get together  behind closed doors, make a deal and rise prices every 8 months, it's only human, so we need smart open-standards solutions to keep prices down and private data secure, not in the hands of advertisers and pollsters , etc., which is what just happen with social networks ( like Facebook and others that just signed a fine and supervision deal  with the FTC for privacy abuses, etc. and still refuse to surrender minor's private data to Congress members for permanent erasure ) . These smart open -standards and flexible networks can/must be powered by also locally manufactured  Solar, Wind , Shallow Geothermal and Batteries/ Fuel-cells systems to create the whole complete solution, and this is the real test for Europe : to create a whole new smart efficient environment , a new  architecture and solution that can be exported to the whole world.   And dear Commissioner : the news , evidence and facts about the LIBOR rate-rigging case has shown that most Consumer loans, Mortgages, Student loans,  Business loans, Sovereign Bonds ,Municipal Bonds, Sovereign and Local Debt , Derivatives and Stocks, etc., etc., have been in many occasions negatively affected by this rate -rigging organized effort , clearly damages and compensation must be addressed, this loss cannot be put on the shoulders of Taxpayers and Consumers, and here the EU and the USA must work together and be firm and demand fair and prompt compensation, from the Bankers , Hedge-Funds, Private Equity and Traders involved , as well as from all the Regulators that were derelict in their duties, thanks. The EU can and must be the leader in a new architecture, a new direction, in new practical solutions .

This means nothing to Towns such as Tavistock, Devon, England - not in any funding, not on any plan. Tavistock 'Gateway to Superfast Cornwall'.
Asim Jarrar's picture

I think these new policy measures will make a great difference in the eyes of investors of telecom network infrastructure. The measures will increase the incentives for investors due to the increased regulatory visability and flexibility given to incumbents. EU has segmented the fixed access network infrastructures in different markets and NRA do not have tools to regulate the overall market in an coherent framework, even though the single markets put indirect contraints on the competition between them selves, such as Cabel vs Fiber. The current EU recommendation does not consider Cabel as a substitute to Fibre and there by is not regulated. However with these new policies proposed I am looking forward learn how this will effect the regulation and competiotion. 
Conrad Slade's picture

  I think the regulation of broadband is an increasingly important issue for two main reasons. Firstly, broadband provides the means to transport various signals that have traditionally been subject to differing regulation.  Secondly, the infrastructure costs and first mover advantage in the provision of broadband services have great implications for competition.
Roy Barnett's picture

I agree that broadband for all in the EU is a necessity and it should be made available to everyone.

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