Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Action 117: Reduction of the cost of deploying high speed electronic communications networks

Article

The European Commission adopted a proposal of a regulation concerning measures to reduce the costs of deploying high speed electronic communications networks in March 2013.

What is the problem? High costs, inefficiencies and burdens in broadband roll-out

Deployment of high-speed broadband networks is subject to various inefficiencies and bottlenecks which lead to high costs for undertakings wishing to deploy networks, especially in rural areas. The dominant cost (up to 80%) in deploying new networks is linked to civil engineering works.

Therefore it is necessary to adopt measures tackling these inefficiencies and to bring down the civil engineering costs in order to incentivise infrastructure rollout.

Why is EU action required?

In the view of the Digital Agenda, considerable network deployment efforts are still necessary to achieve the ambitious broadband targets.

The high costs of broadband roll-out and uneven investment conditions throughout the EU imped further growth of European companies and creation of the single telecommunications market which underpins the modern and innovative economy.

The current conditions for duct access vary greatly from country to country and even from municipality to municipality. The situation is far from ideal: there is no transparency on existing physical infrastructure suitable for broadband rollout and no appropriate commonly used rules when deploying broadband. Whereas access to telecom ducts is more common, access to infrastructure belonging to other utilities is a strongly underused to bring down costs and increase broadband coverage. Even more, the regulation in certain Member States discourages utility companies to cooperate with telecom operators.

What has the Commission done so far?

Answering the call of the 2012 Spring Council for actions at EU level to achieve costs savings in the deployment of high-speed broadband networks as part of the efforts to complete the Digital Single Market by 2015, on 27 March 2013 the college adopted a proposal of a regulation concerning measures to reduce the costs of deploying high speed electronic communications networks.

The adopted proposal is a one of 12 key actions under the Single Market Act II and is complementary to other actions undertaken to facilitate the development of infrastructures in Europe, such as the Inspire Directive or the Broadband State Aid Guidelines.

On-going actions

Promotional activities and networking across the Europe through presentations at major thematic events, bilateral meetings with main stakeholders (operators, national regulatory authorities and other national authorities).

What will the Commission do next?

The Commission intends to work on the adoption of the regulation aimed at tackling:

  • inefficiencies or bottlenecks concerning the use of existing physical infrastructure (such as, for example, ducts, conduits, manholes, cabinets, poles, masts, antennae, towers and other supporting constructions), 
  • bottlenecks related to co-deployment, 
  • inefficiencies regarding administrative permit granting, and
  • bottlenecks concerning in-building deployment.

In practical terms, thanks to the regulation the owners of all infrastructures, e.g. electricity, gas, water, sewage, suitable to host electronic communications network elements will need to coordinate their works. Local authorities will need to issue fewer permits.

The implementation of proposed measures is expected to incentivise rollout and facilitate investments by decreasing the associated costs by up to 30 %. It is estimated that the total amount to be saved on deployment could reach over € 60 billion.

Less digging = more broadband. What does this mean for …

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The roll-out of high-speed fixed and wireless broadband networks across the EU requires substantial investments. Civil engineering works, such as the digging-up of roads to lay down high-speed broadband, account for up to 80% of the cost of deploying high-speed networks. Limiting these works would make broadband roll-out cheaper.

The Directive on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (2014/61/EU) aims at facilitating and incentivising the roll-out of high-speed electronic communications networks by reducing its cost. It includes measures such as the sharing and re-use of existing physical infrastructure, which are expected to create conditions for a more cost efficient network deployment.

Last updated on 27/07/2016 - 17:01
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Progress Report
Status: Completed Wolf-Dietrich GRUSSMANN Wolf-Dietrich GRUSSMANN