Liberty: Cable needed for Digital Agenda

European policymakers are paying insufficient attention to the potential of cable networks to deliver a substantial portion of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda targets at a lower cost, says a new analysis by WIK Consult for Liberty Global.

WIK Consult’s report “Rethinking the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE)” shows that the European Commission’s speed and coverage targets set in the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ strategy can be more quickly and cost effectively met by encouraging broadband infrastructure competition among a broader range of technologies, including cable. The authors reference a 2012 analysis by the European Investment Bank demonstrating that cable competition to incumbent telco operators can lower the total cost of high-speed broadband deployments by up to 30 pr cent across all European markets where cable is present.

The report also finds that cable investment acts as a spur to FTTN/VDSL investment by telecom incumbents. Cable operator investment thus drives both competition and investment in Europe’s ultra-fast broadband infrastructure.

Manuel Kohnstamm, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at Liberty Global commented: “Liberty Global continues to invest at an extraordinary level to deliver next-generation broadband services across Europe. As the first wave of Digital Agenda targets come into focus, it becomes clear that cable competition is forcing incumbents to invest in building the infrastructure Europe needs to deliver a richer digital media experience for consumers.”

In the Digital Agenda for Europe, the Commission sets out goals to achieve full broadband availability in 2013; 100% availability of 30 Mbps in 2020; and 50 per cent adoption of 100 Mbps by 2020. Following last week’s 2012 Digital Agenda Assembly, the report suggests that these targets could be refined and simplified to better account for predicted consumer demand for broadband, recognising that not all users require maximum bandwidth at all times. The report also observes that cable network technology can readily cater to growing demand for more symmetrical upload and download speeds.

An executive summary of the report, which was discussed with representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, and members of industry yesterday in Brussels, is available upon request.  The final report will be available in early July.

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