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European ITRE Committee Wants 100Mbps Broadband for All by 2020

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 (10:11 am) - Score 608

The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) has supported calls for a “radical” boost to Europe’s Digital Agenda strategy, which could see “ultrafast” broadband ISP speeds of 100Mbps (Megabits per second) being made available to 100% of UK and EU households by 2020; with 50% able to get speeds of 1000Mbps (1Gbps).

The move would represent a huge and economically challenging upheaval from the existing policy, which envisages 100% having access to superfast broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2020; with 50% able to get speeds of 100Mbps+.

By contrast the UK government’s current plan, which aims to make speeds of 25Mbps+ available to 90% of people by March 2015 (with the last 10% getting speeds of at least 2Mbps), is even further off the newly proposed pace.

Gunnar Hökmark MEP, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group, said:

Ultrafast broadband should deliver 100 Mbps to all and 1Gbps to 50% of the EU’s households. This is a radical increase in the digital agenda targets and I am happy that the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee endorsed this ambitious approach.

[The] vote also sharpens the criteria for public investments in ultrafast broadband by ensuring that these monies prioritise projects delivering minimum speeds of 100Mbps to rural areas and 1Gbps to high density areas. This is an investment for the future and a first step to regain the EU’s global leadership in telecoms.

Rural areas must not be left behind but should be as connected as all other parts of Europe. Ambitious speed criteria for broadband deployment in rural areas will help bridge the digital divide and make the whole EU competitive.”

Hökmark believes that the proposed €9.2bn (£7.4bn) of extra telecoms funding via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) would be enough to “act as a catalyst” for the necessary investment, although it’s still likely to fall well short of the kind of money that would be needed to make Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) style infrastructure available to 100% of households by 2020.

National governments could also balk at idea of Europe changing its Digital Agenda goal posts mid-project and many would have difficulty finding enough investment to do the job properly, at least not without forcing the majority of home owners to pay for the hugely expensive “last milefibre optic connectivity themselves (i.e. through solutions like BT’s forthcoming FTTP-On-Demand service, which should become available to anywhere that it’s slower FTTC lines have already gone).

As it stands the proposal has yet to be fully agreed, although it is now up for wider debate and could potentially be adopted as official policy.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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20 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred

    Well if you think about it this can be achieved in the UK wherever FTTC is deployed by making “on demand” available, so that covers the vast majority

    They could release a 1Gbps package as well no problem, the hard part is getting it to 100%, some serious money will be needed for that

    • Avatar Andrew

      they would need to make sure that 100mb was achievable without the need for fibre on demand which wont happen in rural areas, its probably achievable in most dense areas with a light extra investment

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Why can’t they use FOD ? Surely if FOD is available those speeds are available ? It doesn’t say anything about installation costs does it ?

  2. Avatar Deduction

    No provider here covers 100% of homes right now with any ADSL2+ let alone fibre products. Even if BT get all the funding using their own mythical BS figures only 90% will be covered by fibre. If they dont then unless their faulty abacus figures have changed again its only gonna be 66%. Either way the current BT rollout and other fibre based products like Virgin in no way shape or form will be able to do 100Mb to 100% of homes by 2020.

    Then again it comes as no shock to any of us with common sense the UK would end up being behind Europe and the rest of the world again.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Indeed I would be surprised if any country in Europe offers 100% broadband coverage at the moment

    • Avatar Deduction

      I suppose that depends on what speed/rate the EU/you/me/the UK define as “broadband” (I imagine all those have different definitions). One thing does seem consistent though EU officials/committees etc seem to be demanding more the more they invest. Pity that is not happening here, then again we have a bunch of spineless individuals in charge of everything in the UK.

      The whole BDUK scheme as an example has turned out to be a joke and not because i hate BT, but because any scheme like that where you spend money to set it up but ultimately end up giving all the money to a single entity anyway (whether it was BT, Virgin or anyone else) is a huge waste of cash to set up in the first place. We may as well just gave a telco company (doesnt matter which) billions anyway and cut out the cost part where a bunch of blokes in suits that know nothing about broadband sat around discussing it.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Yep BDUK is a joke but even if it was done right there’s no way near enough money to get 100% connected up to 100Mbps not a chance 7bn sounds a lot but when its divided up across europe it will amount to very little I expect

    • Avatar Deduction

      That is half the issue though, while i agree whoever ended up funded be it BT, Virgin, C&W or SMALLER firms, 100% is never likely to happen, we will never know what others could have achieved with financial backing. I suspect if some were given half the help BT are getting we would had seen faster products then FTTC from some in certain areas by now.

      I personally dislike BT as you know, id admit FTTC is a step in the right direction but considering the total amount of government money they are likely to have from 2010 to 2015 (and by that i mean all funding be it local authority, BDUK, and any others). I feel they could had done more.

      I also think it is totally wrong BT (and the same would go for any other company so its not just a BT bash) are being allowed to get away quoting figures like 90% coverage when those figures are based on what exchanges serve, not who can get actual FTTC or better.

      The EU often meddle in our affairs unwantedly but in the case of broadband maybe (though again obviously we will never know) if they had taken some of the silly decisions out of our governments and our spineless regulator ofcoms hands we MAY had ended up with a better product than we are going to be stuck with for probably at least the next 10 years.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Oh I’m sure we would have seen faster products in certain areas, without a doubt but I don’t think we would have seen the same amount covered, it just comes down to money in the end. FTTH isn’t cheap to provide, whoever provides it.

    • Avatar Deduction

      That is part of the issue though, none of us know for certain how many premises can or will actually get FTTC, because there are no REAL figures about availability.

      I agree with you about funding, whether a single company got it say Virgin instead or it went to a dozen or more small providers the coverage may had been worse, but again we will never know.

      Its ADSL2+ all over again at least to an extent, just because BT enable a exchange with 21CN doesnt mean those connected to it can connect with ADSL2+ profiles.

      Id respect BT, their FTTC rollout and how much money they have had/getting a whole lot more if they actually provided realistic figures about coverage. I can not understand when they can not do a list of cabinets road by road as and when they get installed, they do it for exchanges, the only reason i can think they wont do it for cabinets is because the actual availability figures are not as rosy as they would like us to believe.

  3. It would be possible to achieve if the funding went to innovative altnets which empowered the people to help themselves. It isn’t possible to do by incumbent telcos because their overheads are too great. People power could Do IT though. People will invest in good connections they own themselves with the profits going back into local networks instead of paying shareholders and million pound bonuses for telco bosses. Altnets could grow with soft loans, it needn’t be grant funding. They just need seed corn to get started. When you look at the engineering the victorians did, the railways and the bridges, or the pyramids in Egypt it isn’t beyond our capabilities to lay a tiny wee fibre across fields. Is it? Once the altnets got going I am sure they would either take over the incumbents with their superior and cheaper service or it would make the telcos up their game and deliver a better service to retain their customers.
    If the effort and marketing that has been put into cabinets had been put into replacing old phone lines we wouldn’t be in this position, being left behind so many countries. Cabinets are a stop gap, and any money spent on them is wasted in the long term.

    • Avatar Fibrefred

      A nice vision but an unrealistic one. No way would the b4rn experiment work uk wide, how many properties has people power connected to date?

    • Avatar Somerset

      Is the UK the only country installing FTTC?

      What’s the typical cost of FTTP into a property in a built up area? What subsidy is required for an ‘altnet’?

  4. Not meaning simply the B4RN model, there are lots of others equally innovative. Gigaclear doing great work too to name but one. People power has connected quite a few, and at least we don’t claim to ‘pass’ thousands…
    Its very slow job without any help or support from government, but we’ll get there.

    • Avatar Fibrefred

      Surely the only support you would get from the government would be money and you have that now ? So the rest is up to the people. Look how long b4rn is taking and it has a lot of ready and willing people, you could not replicate in urban areas, plus gigaclear do not use joe public for installs ? its just another private company

    • Avatar Somerset

      Gigaclear and others, like any company or organisation ‘cherry pick’ where it is financially sensible to go.

      Those respected in the industry – what do they say about it?

      Passing means available to order and 12M can order FTTC now with speeds that have yet to be shown to be insufficient for the long term. For the majority streaming HD video is the main ‘killer’ application which only needs 10M.

      Chris – what’s the cost of FTTC in a cabinet area compared with FTTP to all? Like it or not, very few want to pay for FTTP now and should the government subsidise it?

  5. From the rural (and urban in-fill) BT NGA press releases it would appear BT wishes to charge in excess of £225 subsidy per premise past to enable FTTC.

    That amount per premise in an urban or village setting (where cabinet >800 metres from village), could pay for a lot of passive infrastructure, or builings and streets to be flown fibre (GPON/P2P or Docisis) ready for an operator to connect.

    The urban broadband fund could also be used constructively for this purpose, allowing City authorities to declare their ambition by making clear their intent to define a new network termination node in all publicly owned and managed buildings, while kick starting (well a nudge) towards their city fibre switchover plan. If these public buildings /housing, business parks, were fibre readied it would encourage Voda/C&W, City Fibre Holdings to both build and demand more from Openreach, through Ofcom and Government.

    Ironically, it might well be BT’s aggressive subsidy requests for FTTC solution that forces councils and city authorities to seek alternatives that reduce reliance on the incumbent in the longer term. Using some of the public monies to own and re-purpose passives at the network edge must be looking very attractive to LAs.

    Here I suggest is a good place to begin meeting the ambition identified.

  6. Avatar Somerset

    and… What, exactly, is ‘fibre readied’ in one of these buildings?

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