EU proposes cheaper broadband rules

NeelieKroesThe European Commission has proposed new rules to cut by 30 per cent the cost of rolling out high-speed Internet. Civil engineering, such as the digging up of roads to lay fibre, accounts for up to 80 per cent of the cost of deploying high-speed networks. The proposal may save companies €40 to 60 billion.

High-speed broadband is the backbone of the telecoms and wider Digital Single Market, the Commission is attempting to build. Its rollout is currently slowed down by a patchwork of rules and administrative practices at national and sub-national levels. “In most places, today’s rules hurt Europe’s competitiveness,” said European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes.

The draft regulation builds on best practices in place today in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom, but leaves organisational issues very much to the discretion of Member States.

Kroes said: “Everyone deserves fast broadband. I want to burn the red tape that is stopping us for getting there. The European Commission wants to make it quicker and cheaper to get that broadband.”

The Rules would become directly applicable across the EU after agreement by the European Parliament and Council.

The Commission wants to tackle four main problem areas:
– Ensuring that new or renovated buildings are high-speed-broadband-ready.
– Opening access to infrastructure on fair and reasonable terms and conditions, including price, to existing ducts, conduits, manholes, cabinets, poles, masts, antennae installations, towers and other supporting constructions.
– Ending insufficient coordination of civil works, by enabling any network operator to negotiate agreements with other infrastructure providers
– Simplifying complex and time-consuming permit granting, especially for masts and antennas, by granting or refusing permits within six months by default and allowing requests to be made through a single point of contact.

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