European Commission pushes for better broadband

20 Sep 2010

The European Commission has adopted three complementary measures to facilitate the roll out and take up of ultra-fast broadband in the EU, which includes freeing up valuable broadband spectrum to mobile operators by 2013.

The measures aim to help the EU realise the commitments in the Digital Agenda for Europe to give everyone European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra fast broadband by 2020.

The commission also sees broadband infrastructure as being essential to creating jobs.

“Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe’s prosperity and well-being,” said Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda.

“These measures will help to ensure that Europeans get the first-class internet they expect and deserve, so that they can access the content and services they want.”

High-speed fibre networks access

The package includes a Commission Recommendation on Regulated Access to Next Generation Access (NGA) Networks that sets out a common regulatory approach for access to new high-speed fibre networks that asks telecoms regulators to ensure a balance between encouraging investment and safeguarding competition.

This measure provides regulatory clarity to all market players in order to stimulate investment in high-speed broadband.

The package also includes a commission proposal for a decision by the European parliament and council to establish a five-year policy programme to promote efficient radio spectrum management.

It also wishes to ensure that sufficient spectrum is available by 2013 for wireless broadband. The EU feels that this will support innovation in other policy areas, such as transport and the environment.

The package’s third measure is a Broadband Communication that sets out a framework for meeting the Digital Agenda targets and outlines how to encourage public and private investment in fast broadband networks.

It asks EU states to introduce operational broadband plans for high-speed networks with concrete implementing measures, provides guidance on cutting investment costs and indicates how public authorities may support such investment.

Europe currently has the highest average levels of broadband take up at 24.8pc, but networks need to be upgraded.

Only 1pc of Europeans have a high-speed fibre internet connection directly to their homes, compared to 12pc of Japanese and 15pc of South Koreans.