The European Commission launched two major projects that examine the mapping of broadband data on a European scale: Mapping of fixed and mobile broadband services in Europe (SMART 2014/0016) and Study on Broadband and Infrastructure Mapping (SMART 2012/0022).

Screenshot of the main page of the EU Broadband Mapping Portal

Mapping of fixed and mobile broadband services in Europe (SMART 2014/0016)

Background

In the framework of the Digital Single Market strategy and the Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society, the European Commission aims to fully benefit from Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Until 2025, all European households shall have access to connectivity offers of at least 100 Mbps (50% of households already until 2020).

In January 2016, the European Commission launched a 3-year project for Mapping of Broadband Services in Europe.  It aims to develop an interactive online mapping application that enables visualization of Quality of Service (QoS) for all EU and EEA Member States.

The project will assess and monitor the achievement of the new connectivity goals in the framework of the Digital Single Market. The initiative will establish a central information hub on broadband services in Europe and has already connected more than 200 relevant stakeholders so far.

Data collection

The platform is building on existing data sets gathered from national public authorities and private international crowdsourcing initiatives, which are mapped for the first time on a European scale. Fixed and mobile data from theoretical calculations as well as measurements are taken into account.

The mapping application covers three different data sets all of which reflect Quality of Service (QoS) in different ways:

  • QoS-1: Calculated availability of Service, network performance of existing infrastructure.
  • QoS-2: Measured provision of Service, excluding end user’s environment.
  • QoS-3: Measured experience of Service, including end user’s environment.

Data sets that reflect Quality of Service (QoS)

Data provision to the project is voluntary and is carried out continuously. Data suppliers retain full control of their data and can define the scope of data to be published.

Information on the Quality of Service derives from the following attributes collected:

  • Single technologies (DSL/ADSL, FTTC/B/H, UMTS, Satellite, etc.), technology groups (wired, wireless, mobile, NGA) and;
  • Availability of a certain infrastructure, up- and download speed, latency, jitter, packet loss and data usage.

Data is collected at various spatial granularities ranging from small regions (Eurostat  territorial unit for statistics NUTS-3) to grid cells and address points. To ensure data privacy, no IP addresses are collected within the scope of this project.

Challenges

There are many different approaches across Europe when it comes to mapping quality of service of broadband networks. The main challenge in this project is to benchmark and visualize the broad variety of data in one mapping application. Data differs in terms of initiatives’ intention, methodology approaches and collected values. Furthermore, it is difficult to find a common ground for spatial resolution for the heterogeneous data sets.

These challenges are tackled in close cooperation with experts from national authorities (including national regulatory authorities - NRAs - and relevant Ministries), European level bodies (relevant BEREC working groups), research institutes and key international organizations (International Telecommunication Union and the Internet Engineering Task Force) responsible for mapping initiatives or relevant technical work in the same field.

The project contributes to establishing a joint understanding of methodologies that leads to greater comparability of mapping initiatives at a European level.

Time frame

The data collection campaign started in October 2016. The mapping application goes online early in 2018. The application is being developed continuously, based on feedback from Stakeholder Consultations.

Study on Broadband and Infrastructure Mapping (SMART 2012/0022)

Background

The Mapping of Broadband and Infrastructure Study (SMART 2012/0022) was based on the Digital Single Market strategy, the broadband state aid guidelines and the proposal of the European Commission on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high speed electronic communications networks. The study reviewed mapping initiatives in Europe and around the world and developed a methodology on four types of mapping:

  • infrastructure mapping;
  • service mapping;
  • demand mapping;
  • investment and funding mapping.

The study focused on national broadband mapping initiatives authorized by public authorities. An inventory of existing broadband mapping initiatives has been set up and information has been assembled. Major significance has the definition of the factors that determine how broadband mapping initiatives are functioning and what the cost of mapping is.

Types of broadband mapping

The modular mapping concept comprises four kinds of broadband mapping:

  • service;
  • infrastructure;
  • demand;
  • investment mapping.

Each developed methodology choice consists of two to four options to implement broadband mapping systems. Based on the results of the review section, every authority focusing on the set-up of a broadband mapping initiative can choose the best-fit option depending on their requirements.

Infrastructure mapping

Infrastructure mapping is the detailed, georeferenced, processing and visualisation of data about infrastructure, creating transparent access to relevant information. The aim is to reduce costs of broadband deployment and coordinate the measures as well as the possibility of synergy use in the deployment of broadband networks. To ensure an effective expansion and use of infrastructure mapping:

  • the authority in charge should be the NRA (National Regulatory Authority) in cooperation with external expertise;
  • an obligation for the telecommunication infrastructure owner (with defined scope and content to be defined according to the requirements of each Member State) should be implemented to ensure legal liability and data contribution;
  • it shall focus on telecommunication companies as the data source to collect information on location and route, infrastructure type, current use and contact point;
  • exact points and lines are required in terms of spatial resolution.
  • the access to data shall be on a local level and set up with restricted access to avoid misuse.

A number of European countries perform infrastructure mapping initiatives, e.g. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France (with the two initiatives ARCEP and Cartoradio), Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland.

Service mapping

Service mapping describes systems that gather, analyse and present information on the supply of broadband services available in a specific area. It provides an insight into the current state of broadband availability in order to assist in decision making processes. Both, service and infrastructure mapping initiatives use several formats of publication (e.g. static or interactive maps in public and other more restricted formats). To ensure the effectiveness of service mapping:

  • the authority in charge should be the NRA (National Regulatory Authority) in cooperation with external expertise;
  • it shall focus on collecting information on supplier name, type of technology and downstream bandwidth. Additional information required includes upstream bandwidth, data volume usage, QoS and take-up and shall be collected depending on additional requirements only;
  • the use of a grid cell raster to aggregate information for spatial resolution is suggested. Information shall therefore be delivered as (exact or approximate) points;
  • data delivery of addresses covered is the most suitable methodology for fixed networks. For wireless networks, aggregation and approximation is sufficient;
  • the preferred data formats are geodata (vector) and data with spatial reference. The initiative shall offer a wide range of data supply options such as email, upload server, and data entry via a web portal and web services.

Most European countries perform service mapping initiatives: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Demand mapping

Demand mapping focuses on gathering information on dimensions characterising the demand for broadband services. This category should be divided into two approaches: Mapping based on shortage or future needs and mapping based on the quality of services.

  • Demand mapping could provide a clearer view of the types of areas (white, grey or black) under examination for state aid (level of demand, range of price to be paid by willing consumers and required technical characteristics) while identifying market failure and changes required (e.g. whether, in fact, there is demand in white areas or whether there is unsatisfied demand in grey/black areas).
  • It is suggested to conduct such demand mapping on a regional level in correlation with state aid measures and their support.

Some European countries perform demand mapping initiatives, e.g. Sweden and United Kingdom.

Investment and funding mapping

Investment and funding mapping aims at gathering, processing and visualising information related to the financing sources and instruments for broadband funding. This kind of mapping refers to private or funded investments on a regional level and tracks information about efficiency of the past, current and future investments in broadband related infrastructures.

  • In terms of planned investments, it has to be split into funded and private investments
  • It is suggested keeping the mapping of planned private investments on a regional level based on the state aid guidelines (which describe measures to help inform relevant public authorities about future investments)

Review of existing broadband mapping initiatives

The map shows a review of the broadband mapping initiatives with regards to European countries

45 types of operational mapping initiatives in the EU 28 have been identified for the inventory by the Mapping of Broadband and Infrastructure Study. The research shows that most of the Member States are involved in at least one type of the broadband mapping approaches. Most of the initiatives have chosen to focus on service mapping and infrastructure mapping.

Published: 
23 April 2015
Last update: 
11 December 2017
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