The following objectives have been set in the field of 'provision of broadband':
- Basic broadband for all citizens by 2013: this target is met, as satellite broadband is available (coverage 100%) in every Member State.
- Coverage of Next Generation Networks (NGN): 30 Mbps or more for all citizens by 2020.
- Use of Next Generation Networks (NGN): 100 Mbps or more by 50% of households by 2020.
In addition, the European Commission adopted a strategy on Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society in September 2016. This strategy addresses the availability and take-up of very high capacity networks, which will enable the widespread use of new products, services and applications in the Digital Single Market.
The three main strategic objectives for 2025 are:
- Access to 1 Gbps for all schools, transport hubs and main providers of public services and digitally intensive enterprises,
- Access to download speeds of at least 100 Mbps to be upgraded to 1 Gbps for all European households, and
- Uninterrupted 5G wireless broadband coverage for all urban areas and major roads and railways.
Main measures for a future oriented broadband policy
- A European Communications Code to help achieve the Gigabit Society investment objectives.
- A 5G for Europe action plan for the fifth generation of telecommunications systems.
- The WiFi4EU initiative promotes free Wi-Fi connections in and around public buildings, health centres, parks or squares.
- Connecting Europe Broadband Fund is an initiative by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) supporting the financing of broadband network infrastructure.
- Establishment of a European network of national Broadband Competence Offices (BCOs) with a Broadband Competence Offices Support Facility (BCO-SF) as a dedicated office for support and facilitation between all the BCOs through regular workshops and constant networking.
- The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) will deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures of the coming decade.
- In a 2014 Communication Towards a thriving data-driven economy, the European Commission underlined the importance of the technological underpinnings of the mobile internet and the evolution of large-capacity networks for a data-driven economy.
- The Directive on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (2014/61/EU) aims at facilitating and incentivising the rollout of high-speed electronic communications networks by reducing its cost.
- The Digital Agenda Review proposed a package of regulatory measures on non-discrimination and wholesale pricing to promote investment and strengthen competition across all networks (Recommendation adopted in 2013).
- To promote public funding in rural areas, the Commission revised the guidelines for the application of EU State aid rules to the broadband sector in January 2013 and published a new Broadband Investment Guide in September 2014. The Broadband Handbook (2020) for rural and remote areas helps policy makers and broadband project managers to rollout high-speed networks in rural or remote territories.
- State aid assessment of projects deploying broadband networks with the support of public funds (“step change”).
- 2013 update of the 2007 Recommendation on the list of markets relevant for ex ante regulation.
- Development of a radio spectrum policy.
- Strengthening of the national regulatory authorities and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) in order to achieve greater coherence and predictability of the fragmented and inconsistent application of the rules in the Digital Single Market (Regulation establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications and the Agency for Support for BEREC).
The European Commission's policy framework encourages both private and public investments in fast and ultra-fast networks to achieve the connectivity targets of the Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society strategy.
Within the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) supports financing of the high-speed broadband roll-out. Member States have the opportunity to contribute to the Fund directly or through their National Promotional Banks.
Furthermore, the EU provides a framework for investment with the support of European Structural and Investment Funds.
In addition, the Connecting Europe Facility in Telecom (CEF) supports Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs) and broadband networks. It offers funding opportunities for basic and re-usable digital services, known as building blocks, and contributes to the achievement of the Digital Agenda broadband access targets for European households by 2020. CEF aims at stimulating the deployment and modernisation of broadband networks.
The Commission‘s strategic infrastructure investment priorities are set in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). A proposed pragmatic, modern, long-term budget for the next MFF 2021-2027 includes a priority on strategic infrastructure, digital transformation, and the Single Market.
The most important instrument for financing broadband deployment within the next MFF is the Connecting Europe Facility 2 - Digital (CEF 2 Digital), which promotes strategic projects for the development of digital infrastructures with a proposed budget of 3 billion euros. CEF 2 Digital will focus on:
- support socio-economic drivers for the development of gigabit networks (“5G communities”),
- initiation and implementation of the next WiFi4EU programme and the synergetic creation of 5G projects,
- establishing and expanding international/cross-border backbone networks,
- availability of operational digital platforms that support the flow, storage, processing and analysis of transport and/or energy infrastructure,
- creation of cross-border 5G corridors for automotive, rail and inland waterways.
Broadband and Member States
In order to practically implement the aspirations of the Digital Single Market and the new Gigabit Society targets for 2025, all Member States are encouraged to endorse their targets and adapt their national broadband strategies to the new targets based on the results of the Study of the National Broadband Plans. All Member States should provide a country-specific framework for the coordination and organisation of broadband development activities. State aid guidelines help Member States achieving the Digital Single Market strategy aims. The implementation and review of the national broadband policies should be supported by Broadband Competence Offices (BCO's) as single contact points in each Member State.
As required by the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), BEREC is preparing Guidelines on very high capacity networks and released the Guidelines detailing Quality of Service Parameters. The Guidelines shall contribute to the harmonisation of the definition of the term ‘very high capacity network’ in the European Union. The Guidelines on very high capacity networks will specify the criteria that a network is to fulfil in order to be considered a very high capacity network. In particular, down- and uplink bandwidth, resilience, error-related parameters, latency and its variation. NRAs will need to follow the guidelines closely.