Communications Networks, Content and Technology

Telecom Single Market - Broadband Access & Cost Reduction

Telecom Single Market - Broadband Access & Cost Reduction

Regulatory Coordination & Business (Unit B.1)

A procompetitive set of telecom rules aimed at delivering growth, innovation and user choice in electronic communications and facilitating EU-wide high-speed broadband connectivity, including via synergies across utilities.


We develop policy and legislation with a particular focus on measures to strengthen the single market thereby facilitating the provision of cross-border and pan-European networks and services. We proactively follow up on such policies with the aim to turn them into reality on the market, e.g. by promoting measures to reduce the cost for broadband rollout, and spreading best practice across network industries (energy, water, transport).


Today, Europe is fragmented into 28 separate national communications markets, each with a limited number of players. As a consequence, while no operator is present in more than half of the Member States, most in far fewer, overall more than 200 operators serve a market of 510 million of customers.Existing EU rules on authorisations, regulatory conditions for access to networks, spectrum assignment and consumer protection are implemented in diverging ways. This patchy scenario raises barriers to entry and increases the costs for operators wanting to provide integrated cross-border networks or services, thereby impeding their expansion.Economies of scale and new growth opportunities can improve the returns on investment in high-speed networks and can at the same time drive competition and global competitiveness.As regards high-speed networks, studies suggest that the largest single cost component of deploying networks, going up to 80%, is civil engineering. These costs could be significantly reduced by the re-use of existing telecommunications ducts, the sharing of alternative infrastructure owned by other utilities, coordination of civil works across utilities (e.g. water, transport, energy) and/or by streamlined administrative procedures at national and local level. The recently adopted Directive to reduce the cost of high-speed broadband builds on national best practices, scaling them up at EU level. The Directive includes a number of key enablers for more efficient deployment; success will therefore depend on stakeholders exploiting them on the ground. The Commission is hence actively promoting the measures, including cost-effective deployment methods based on cooperation between utilities and telcos. It will also support Member States in the preparation of the transposition and implementation process.

The EU regulatory framework for electronic communications as well as Article 114 of the TFEU.


Full-Time Equivalent: 
11.00 full-time equivalent (FTE)
Collaboration with other DGs or agencies:
Administrative and operational budget will cover: Studies (Eurobarometer household survey on eCommunications; study on interoperability standards); Stakeholder events (e.g. on cost reduction synergies with the energy sector)

Directive on cost reduction

Directive 2014/61/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks, OJ L 157, 27/05/2014.

Timeframe: Adopted on 15 May 2014. (Transposition by 1 January 2016. Full implementation by end of 2016)



1.1 Broadband coverage - Percentage of population within the EU covered by broadband from 30Mbps by 2020

Target Fast broadband (>30Mbps) for all by 2020
Baseline 48 % (end of 2011)
Current 62 % (end of 2013)

Digital Agenda Scoreboard

1.2 Cost savings

Target The coherent and systematic application of the set of measures established under this initiative should bring down the costs of rolling out high-speed broadband networks by 25% until 2020.
Baseline Existing measures in MS aimed at cost reduction as reviewed in the impact assessment

Commission study to be undertaken

Connected Continent Regulation (TSM)

Timeframe: Aiming at agreement by the end of 2014.



The establishment of direct output/result indicators and targets, and related data sources, should await finalisation of the legislation.

Interoperability standards for wholesale access products.

Timeframe: 2016.



Reference offers

Target At least one reference offer of harmonised wholesale access products based on European interoperability standards per each regulated market, per type of wholesale access products until 2020.
Baseline Number of existing reference offers of harmonised wholesale access products at the end of 2015.

Digital Agenda Scoreboard (new data gathering need)


Results / Impacts

Reducing the cost of deploying broadband infrastructure is anticipated to enhance the chances of achieving the DAE goals for ubiquitous high-speed connectivity in the EU. In parallel, the legislative proposal for a Connected Continent is expected to accelerate the achievement of a Single Market for electronic communications which would promote competition, investment and innovation, providing for new business cases for both large and small operators while increasing choice for consumers and business end-users as well as the quality of services.The efficiency gains resulting from the achievement of a fully functioning single market for telecoms have been estimated between 0.5% and 0.9% of GDP on a yearly basis, corresponding to amounts between 57 billion to 110 billion EUR per year.A healthy and dynamic electronic communications sector ensuring high-speed connectivity and innovative services for business and consumers across Europe will ensure Europe's global competitiveness and provide for the future-proof infrastructure ready for the Digital Economy, and hence boost growth and jobs in the whole economy.

Timeframe: 2020



NGA broadband coverage/availability (as a % of households) (lead indicator)

Target Fast broadband (>30Mbps) for all by 2020
Baseline 48 % (end of 2011)
Current 62 % (end of 2013)

Digital Agenda Scoreboard

Chart URL See the chart

Link to DG CONNECT's Top Level Targets

  • DAE - The entire EU to be covered by broadband above 30Mbps by 2020
  • DAE - 50% of the EU to subscribe to broadband above100 Mbps by 2020