Advanced connectivity is the fundamental building block of the digital transformation and the enabler of a sustainable future. Fixed and wireless networks contribute significantly to providing affordable and accessible services and bridging the digital divide.

 

Ubiquitous connectivity is a decisive factor in closing economic, social and territorial divides. High-capacity networks, fibre and 5G, underpin next generation innovations.

Connectivity benefits & goals

Enhanced connectivity will support more connections and they will be faster and more reliable. It will empower people and businesses with better, faster and more widespread internet coverage. Citizens will have access to more efficient digital services, consumers will enjoy more choices and available information, and businesses will explore new opportunities through innovative business models, remote collaborations and digital tools.  

  • All European households should have access to 100 Mbps connections by 2025, with the possibility to upgrade those networks to reach much higher speeds
  • All main socio-economic drivers - such as schools, universities, research centres, transport hubs, hospitals, public administrations, and enterprises relying on digital technologies - should have access to gigabit connectivity
  • Uninterrupted 5G coverage should be available in all urban areas and all major terrestrial transport paths to connect people and objects
  • Access to mobile data connectivity everywhere, in all places where people live, work, travel and gather.

Boosting fast connectivity

The Commission Recommendation on Connectivity, published in September 2020, invites Member States to work together to develop and agree on best practices, by end of March 2020, to accelerate rollout of 5G and fibre networks. Member States should agree on measures that will reduce the cost of network deployment and provide operators with timely access to pioneer spectrum for 5G. Establishing more cross-border coordination for radio spectrum assignments will also be important to support innovative 5G services, particularly in the industry and transport fields.

5G

5G, the next generation of mobile technology, is a crucial asset for European competitiveness and a major enabler for future digital services. 5G networks will bring high capacity, increased coverage, accelerated connection speeds into the digital landscape. It will support many more connected people, devices and objects. Its main benefits will span into many sectors, enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), telemedicine, connected vehicles, smart energy management, green cities, virtual reality entertainment, more remote collaborations and remote operations in industry. 

Europe is rolling out 5G networks and there are still ways to step up. The Commission Implementing Regulation on 5G infrastructure, adopted in June 2020, will facilitate the installation of 5G networks.

The 5G Action Plan proposes an EU framework for Member States and industrial sectors to cooperate in the development and introduction of 5G wireless technologies in the European Union with the goal to stimulate the necessary investments.

European Electronic Communications Code

The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and the BEREC regulation entered into force on 20 December 2018. While the Code has to be transposed into national laws by the end of 2020, the BEREC regulation has different transposition dates. These new telecom rules will bring EU citizens high-speed connectivity and make telephone calls secure and affordable within the EU, while also paving the way for more investment in high-speed Internet and the smooth introduction of 5G into the European market.

The Code sets EU-wide common rules and objectives on how the telecom industry should be regulated, promoting investment and competition. It applies to providers of networks and services and defines how they can be regulated by national Regulators. It brings the rules up to date, to take account of technological developments (more internet use, less traditional telephony) and to safeguard consumer choice.

More Connectivity initatives

WiFi4EU

The WiFi4EU initiative promotes free access to Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens in public spaces including parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums in municipalities throughout Europe. The WiFi4EU initiative provides municipalities with the opportunity to apply for vouchers worth EUR 15 000. The vouchers are to be used to install Wi-Fi equipment in public spaces within the municipality that are not already equipped with a free Wi-Fi hotspot. 

Thanks to the WiFi4EU initiative, more than 8 900 vouchers have been granted to municipalities across Europe.

CEF2 Digital

The future Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will offer grants for funding strategic infrastructure investments in the period 2021-2027. It will include funding for 5G corridors along major transport paths, gigabit connectivity for 5G-ready communities, including to socio-economic drivers - schools, hospitals and others – and surrounding households, linking users across Europe to high performance computing centres etc.