The two telecoms consultations - on telecoms and broadband needs - are an important part of the Commission's strategy for a Digital Single Market, including an ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules planned for 2016. They are also vital inputs to the ongoing Regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT) evaluation of the EU's telecoms rulebook.
The overall aim is to ensure that the EU has a regulatory environment which is:
The Commission is therefore carrying out a 360° review of the existing rules which will help to prepare regulatory proposals for 2016. The scope of this review includes key EU sector legislations:
The current EU telecoms rules, which help to open-up the telecom markets, free up bottlenecks and enabled access to key inputs, give access to networks and spectrum, have promoted competition, allowing customers to reap significant benefits in terms of choice and prices. National markets offer customers a variety of services and tariffs, enabling them to choose services that best correspond to their needs and permit swift and easy change of providers.
Five years on, there has been significant progress in terms of broadband roll-out across Europe. All EU households now have access to a basic broadband connection (see IP/13/968), Next Generation Access (NGA) fixed-line technologies capable of providing at least 30 Mbps are available to 68% of EU households (end 2014). However, with about 6% of homes subscribing to a 100 Mbps broadband connection, achieving the 50% take-up target remains still challenging.
In parallel to the developments in supply since 2009, consumer demands, habits and expectations have changed even more dramatically, largely fuelled by the proliferation of smart devices. Worldwide, consumer Internet traffic grew 26% in 2013. Until now, this has largely been driven by video-based usage. For example, the number of hours people are watching YouTube per month is up 50% year-on-year, while 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. It is estimated that Internet video traffic will reach the equivalent of 16 billion DVDs per month, or 22 million DVDs per hour by 2018.
People need to be connected not only at home and at work, but also on the move. As a result, our societies are becoming increasingly dependent on high-speed Internet. The use of Cloud services, the Internet of Things, the data economy, the abundance of content, increasingly cheaper and smarter mobile devices are expected to accelerate this trend.
The Commission will therefore examine whether the current rules, designed to liberalise former monopoly networks and services, sufficiently incentivise all market players to meet tomorrow's high-capacity demands across the whole Union.
The first public consultation on future Internet speed and quality asks respondents to reflect about:
The Commission is seeking views not only from the telecom specialists, but also from citizens, organisations, public bodies, and businesses from all sectors - from agriculture to ICT, from education to automotive, from services and industry, especially those that develop applications and services that depend on connectivity.
The Commission asks respondents for input on five key challenges:
No. In the coming months the Commission will discuss telecom issues at meetings and workshops with Ministries, European Parliament committees, the regulatory community, users and the industry at large.
This public consultation will run until 7 December 2015. Following the consultation the Commission will complete the evaluation and will present in 2016 its proposal on how to address the identified challenges in telecoms and Internet speed and quality.