The European Commission put forward multiple policy measures and financial instruments that encourage private and public investments in fast and ultra-fast networks. These measures will help European citizens and businesses reap the full benefits of digitalisation.

EU Broadband Strategy and Policy Round Table Stakeholder Discussion

Objectives

The following objectives have been set in the field of 'provision of broadband':

In addition, the European Commission adopted a strategy on Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society in September 2016. This strategy addresses the availability and take-up of very high capacity networks, which will enable the widespread use of new products, services and applications in the Digital Single Market.

The three main strategic objectives for 2025 are:

  • Access to 1 Gbps for all schools, transport hubs and main providers of public services and digitally intensive enterprises,
  • Access to download speeds of at least 100 Mbps to be upgraded to 1 Gbps for all European households, and
  • Uninterrupted 5G wireless broadband coverage for all urban areas and major roads and railways.

Main measures for a future oriented broadband policy

Financing instruments

The European Commission's policy framework encourages both private and public investments in fast and ultra-fast networks to achieve the connectivity targets of the Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society strategy.

Within the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) supports financing of the high-speed broadband roll-out. Member States have the opportunity to contribute to the Fund directly or through their National Promotional Banks.

Furthermore, the EU provides a framework for investment with the support of European Structural and Investment Funds.

In addition, the Connecting Europe Facility in Telecom (CEF) supports Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs) and broadband networks. It offers funding opportunities for basic and re-usable digital services, known as building blocks, and contributes to the achievement of the Digital Agenda broadband access targets for European households by 2020. CEF aims at stimulating the deployment and modernisation of broadband networks.

The Commission‘s strategic infrastructure investment priorities are set in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). A proposed pragmatic, modern, long-term budget for the next MFF 2021-2027 includes a priority on strategic infrastructure, digital transformation, and the Single Market.

The most important instrument for financing broadband deployment within the next MFF is the Connecting Europe Facility 2 - Digital (CEF 2 Digital), which promotes strategic projects for the development of digital infrastructures with a proposed budget of 3 billion euros. CEF 2 Digital will focus on:

  • support socio-economic drivers for the development of gigabit networks (“5G communities”),
  • initiation and implementation of the next WiFi4EU programme and the synergetic creation of 5G projects,
  • establishing and expanding international/cross-border backbone networks,
  • availability of operational digital platforms that support the flow, storage, processing and analysis of transport and/or energy infrastructure,
  • creation of cross-border 5G corridors for automotive, rail and inland waterways.

Broadband and Member States

In order to practically implement the aspirations of the Digital Single Market and the new Gigabit Society targets for 2025, all Member States are encouraged to endorse their targets and adapt their national broadband strategies to the new targets based on the results of the Study of the National Broadband Plans. All Member States should provide a country-specific framework for the coordination and organisation of broadband development activities. State aid guidelines help Member States achieving the Digital Single Market strategy aims. The implementation and review of the national broadband policies should be supported by Broadband Competence Offices (BCO's) as single contact points in each Member State.

BEREC

As required by the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), BEREC is preparing Guidelines on very high capacity networks and released the Guidelines detailing Quality of Service Parameters. The Guidelines shall contribute to the harmonisation of the definition of the term ‘very high capacity network’ in the European Union. The Guidelines on very high capacity networks will specify the criteria that a network is to fulfil in order to be considered a very high capacity network. In particular, down- and uplink bandwidth, resilience, error-related parameters, latency and its variation. NRAs will need to follow the guidelines closely.