Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Measures for Europe's Digital Agenda

The European Commission adopted several measures aimed at boosting the roll-out and take up of fast- and ultra-fast broadband as part of its Digital Agenda for Europe.
The goal is to ensure that every European citizen could access basic broadband by 2013, and fast- and ultra-fast broadband by 2020. The newly adopted measures include:

  • A recommendation on access to next-generation networks, so that telecoms operators would know what EU laws will apply and that rules be consistent across the single market. The recommendation primarily covers remedies to be imposed upon operators designated with Significant Market Power (SMP) to ensure sharing of facilities. The recommendation holds that national regulatory authorities should also use their powers to facilitate the deployment of multiple fibre lines where feasible to ensure long term competition. The document also contends that alternative operators, some of whom have already deployed their own networks to
    connect to the unbundled copper loop of the SMP operator, "need to be provided with appropriate access products in order to continue to compete in an NGA context. For FTTH these may consist of access to civil engineering infrastructure, to the terminating segment, to the unbundled fibre loop (including dark fibre) or of
    wholesale broadband access, as the case may be."

  • A proposal to ensure that spectrum is available by 2013 for wireless broadband using the 800 MHz band. The European Commission has already adopted a recommendation calling for analogue broadcasting to be switched off by 1 January 2012, and this band should be made available for electronic communications in the EU by 2013. In the longer term, additional spectrum below 790 MHz could also be envisaged, depending on experience and the
    lack of spectrum in other bands adequate for coverage. Considering the capacity of the 800 MHz band to transmit over large areas, the EC believes coverage obligations should be attached to rights.

The EC also published a policy paper outlining how best to encourage public and private investment in high and ultra-high speed networks. Topics of discussion include using regional and local authorities to held reducing the civil engineering costs of new infrastructure; allowing direct investment in infrastructure by public authorities in line with state aid rules; better use of structural and rural development funds; encouraging wireless broadband because it is cheaper than wireline; and enhancing broadband finance instruments via the European Investment Bank.