The European Commission has just published a report on the implementation of the Directive on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (the "Broadband Cost Reduction Directive").

This report provides an overview of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive's implementation and includes a summary of its impact. It assesses the progress towards achieving the objectives and suggests recommendations to maximise the effective implementation of the Directive.

Survey responses show that electronic communications operators believe that there have been improvements in access to physical infrastructure (including in-building infrastructure) and information provision since the Directive was applied. However, there is still room for improvement, with operators indicating that limited progress has been made in supporting the coordination of civil works, easing the process of applying for civil works permits, or facilitating access to buildings for the installation of in-building infrastructure.

To maximise the effective implementation of the Directive and to facilitate the achievement of its objectives, the Commission suggests the following actions:

  1. Ensure transparency as a prerequisite for the shared use of physical infrastructure and co-deployment, meaning adequately equipped single information points to enable them to perform their tasks effectively, including proactive approaches such as mapping exercises and pre-notifications for civil works coordination.
  2. Enhance regulatory certainty in relation to terms and conditions, including prices and cost apportionment, for instance by the development of guidelines (by National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) or other bodies), indicating which methodology would be used to resolve disputes, how costs for sharing infrastructure or co-deployment would be apportioned and the extent to which regulated utilities could benefit from any cost savings or profits arising out of collaboration.
  3. Ensure greater overall efficiency of permit-granting procedures, by central availability of information on permits, strict enforcement of deadlines for granting permits and by enabling electronic permit applications.
  4. Develop standards for and clear rules on access to in-building physical infrastructure, this includes broadband labelling schemes and clear rules concerning the terms, conditions and price of access to in-building infrastructure.
  5. Promote better cooperation amongst regulators at regional and local level and between sectoral regulators, but also among regulatory groups at EU level such as BEREC and ACER.
  6. Ensure efficient data gathering on key performance indicators to enable continuous monitoring and a future evaluation of the implementation of the Directive (to be carried out by the relevant national authorities).

Background information

The Directive aims to facilitate and incentivise the roll-out of high-speed electronic communications networks by lowering the costs. It could also help achieve the EU’s strategic objectives for a gigabit society by 2025. For instance, by incentivising increased coverage of fibre infrastructure, the Directive could help make 100Mbit/s broadband, upgradable to gigabit speeds, universally available. Furthermore, sharing infrastructure and coordinating civil works may also contribute to the deployment of high capacity backbone and access connections to businesses, schools or hospitals, even in underserved or remote areas.

Since this report was drafted less than 2 years after the application deadline of the Directive and most Member States were late in transposing the Directive, its application in practice has started recently and the experience is so far limited. The report nevertheless aims to lay the foundations for establishing a baseline scenario against which an evaluation can be carried out in the future.

Member States which previously applied provisions similar to those in the Directive and undertakings which have engaged in cross-sectoral collaboration have evidence that confirms significant benefits such as the expansion of high-capacity broadband to underserved areas, if other Member States follow suit.

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