These plans should meet the coverage, speed and take-up targets defined in the Digital Agenda for Europe. More specifically, with a view to qualify for structural and investment funds, these broadband plans should meet the following ex-ante conditionalites:
- Have a plan of infrastructure investment based on an economic analysis
- Contain sustainable investment models
- Include measures to stimulate private investment
Public funds in line with EU competition and state aid rules should be used. The Commission will report regularly on progress as part of the Digital Agenda governance.
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What is the problem? National broadband strategies are incomplete
Today, almost all Member States have a broadband strategy. Most of them focus on complete coverage for basic levels of broadband (i.e. adequate for email, routine surfing and administrative services). Only few of them have recently set clear operational measures to achieve:
- Real competition among broadband service providers that would lead to affordable prices for consumers;
- The roll-out of high-speed internet, both in terms of timing and funding, in particular ensuring connectivity in rural and remote areas.
Why is EU action required? Better national strategies to stimulate investment in broadband
Developing comprehensive national broadband strategies will help stimulate investment in fast internet access beyond current market levels. Ultra-fast internet will enable new services based on higher bandwidth needs to become available on a daily basis. A coordinating role bestowed to the Commission would foster the exchange of best practice between national administrators. In its capacity as a manager of the EU budget the Commission aims to ensure that public moneys are spent effectively on projects selected on merits and based on realistic and implementable broadband plans.
What has the Commission done up to now?
In March 2012, the Commission presented a Staff Working Document on national broadband plans. This summarised that state of play and provides a reference point to assist and co-ordinate national planning. In 2013, Commission services initiated a process of checking the compliance of broadband plans with ex-ante conditionalities and will report in due time to allow the Member States to conclude formal discussions on structural and investment funds.