High-speed Internet underpins all sectors of the economy and will be the backbone of the Digital Single Market. For every 10% increase in the broadband penetration the economy grows by 1 to 1.5%. In this context the European Commission is seeking views on how to cut the costs of setting up new networks for high speed internet in the EU. In particular, the Commission wants to explore how to reduce the costs associated with civil engineering, such as the digging up of roads to lay down fibre, and which can account for as much as 80% of the total cost. The Commission believes it could cut the cost of broadband investments by a quarter. Input is sought from all interested public and private parties including telecoms and utility companies for instance, investors, public authorities and consumers.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “We need to cut the engineering costs of rolling-out broadband networks if we want to spread faster broadband across Europe. We need to test practical ideas on how to cut costs and how to make it easier to access, re-use and share this infrastructure. There is nothing more annoying for citizens than road-digging, and nothing more annoying to businesses than pointless red tape.”
Up to 80% of the total broadband investment cost is related to civil infrastructure works. The cost is so high because of a lack of coordination of civil engineering projects, insufficient re-use of existing infrastructure and lack of cooperation between the various actors. For example, water, energy, and railway companies often have their own infrastructure, and dig up roads without coordinating with telecoms companies. Faster roll-out is then further impeded by lengthy, non-transparent and cumbersome procedures for clearing rights of way and obtaining all necessary permits at national or local level.
The Commission seeks views on:
- obstacles to invest in broadband infrastructure,
- ways of improving the use of current infrastructure,
- coordination of civil engineering works,
- measures increasing coordination between competent authorities and simplifying permit procedures,
- ‘readiness’ of new buildings for high speed internet infrastructure.
The public consultation runs until 20th July 2012. The results will contribute to reducing the costs of investments and ultimately the final retail price of broadband.
The Digital Agenda of Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200), sets broadband targets of 100% broadband coverage by 2013 for all Europeans and speeds of 30MBps for all with at least 50% of the European households subscribing to Internet connections above 100MBps by 2020.
At the Spring European Council, on 2nd March, Heads of State and Government concluded that efforts should continue at EU level in order to complete the Digital Single Market by 2015, by providing better broadband coverage, including by reducing the cost of high-speed broadband infrastructure. Without this investment, the EU risks losing out on this important potential for growth and jobs.
Useful links: The consultation document