In order to reap the full benefits offered by digital services and applications, and to keep up with other international markets, Europe needs widely available and competitively priced fast and ultra-fast internet access, hence our broadband targets.
The European Commission's policy framework to achieve these targets encourages both private and public investment in fast and ultra-fast networks.
The Commission adopted a strategy on Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society in Sept 2016. This strategy addresses the availability and take-up of very high capacity networks, which will enable the widespread use of products, services and applications in the Digital Single Market. The three main strategic objectives for 2025 are:
- Gigabit connectivity for all main of socio-economic drivers,
- uninterrupted 5G coverage for all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths, and
- access to connectivity offering at least 100 Mbps for all European households.
The main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe is a European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), set up within the European Investment Bank. Member States have the opportunity to contribute to the Fund directly or through their National Promotional Banks. The EFSI is earmarked to finance high speed broadband roll-out and other digital networks in 2014-2020 including rural areas.
Main measures for a future oriented broadband policy
- The Communication on Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society (Sept 2016) sets a vision of Europe, where availability and take-up of very high capacity networks enable the widespread use of products, services and application in the Digital Single Market. This vision relies on the three main strategic objectives for 2025: Gigabit connectivity, 5G coverage for all urban areas and all major terrestrial transport paths and access for all European households to connectivity offering at least 100 Mbps.
- A European Communications Code to help achieve the Gigabit Society investment objectives.
- A 5G for Europe action plan for the fifth generation of telecommunications systems.
- The Commission's initiative WiFi4EU enables interested local authorities to offer free Wi-Fi connections in and around public buildings, health centres, parks or squares. With an initial budget of EUR 120 million, this new public voucher scheme has the potential to deliver connectivity to thousands of public spaces.
- Connecting Europe Broadband Fund, an investment fund for broadband network infrastructures, is an initiative by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
- The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) will deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures of the coming decade.
- In a 2014 Communication Towards a thriving data-driven economy, the European Commission underlined the importance of the technological underpinnings of the mobile internet and the evolution of large-capacity networks for a data-driven economy.
- In May 2014, the Commission released the Directive on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (2014/61/EU) which aims at facilitating and incentivising the rollout of high-speed electronic communications networks by reducing its cost. The Directive has to be transposed by Member States across the EU by 1 January 2016.
- The Digital Agenda Review proposed a package of regulatory measures on non-discrimination (Recommendation adopted in 2013) and wholesale pricing to promote investment and strengthen competition across all networks.
- To promote public funding in rural areas, the Commission revised the guidelines for the application of EU State aid rules to the broadband sector in January 2013 and published a new Broadband Investment Guide in September 2014.
- 2013 update of the 2007 Recommendation on the list of markets relevant for ex ante regulation.
- The Commission issued a Recommendation on Next Generation Access (NGA) networks setting out a common EU wide approach to the regulatory framework for e-Communications; the aim is to foster competition and incentivise private investments in new super-fast networks.
The EU works toward providing a stable legal framework that stimulates investments in an open and competitive environment includes the development of an efficient spectrum policy and the substantial support of EU's structural and investment funds.
Broadband and Member States
In order to practically implement the aspirations of the Digital Single Market, all Member States are encouraged to endorse its targets and draw up national broadband strategies. All Member States should provide a country-specific framework for the coordination and organisation of broadband development activities (State aid guidelines). National broadband policies should be supported by the provision of information and a network through an appointed institution in each country.
Check the overview of the broadband policies and strategies of each Member State.