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EU Sets Out New Proposals to Cut the Cost of Deploying Fibre Broadband

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 (12:07 pm) - Score 716

The European Commission (EC) has today proposed a new Draft Regulation that could cut the cost of broadband related civil engineering tasks (e.g. digging up roads to lay new fibre optic cable) by 30% and thus save telecoms operators between £34 – £51 billion (€40 to €60 billion).

The draft proposals follow on from an earlier consultation in April 2012 and form part of Europe’s wider Digital Agenda, which aims to ensure that everybody in Europe has access to superfast broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps (Megabits), with 50% or more EU homes subscribing to speeds above 100Mbps, by 2020.

Neelie Kroes, EC Vice President, said:

In most places, today’s rules hurt Europe’s competitiveness. 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.”

But the proposed changes, which include such aspects as “opening access to infrastructure on fair and reasonable terms” and “simplifying complex and time-consuming permit granting, especially for masts and antennas“, probably won’t have a huge impact in the United Kingdom where similar rules either already exist or are being debated as part of the related Growth and Infrastructure Bill (GIB). The EC’s proposed changes will still leave “organisational issues” to the discretion of Member States.

The EC 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.

The effort is important because civil engineering work tends to account for the bulk of deployment costs (around 80%) and Europe believes that any savings achieved through this method could thus result in extra funding for reinvestment. Meanwhile critics don’t want to see operators being given too much power and fear that it could be used to damage the countryside.

On top of that Kroes claims that a 10% growth in high-speed broadband take-up can lead to an up to 1.5% in GDP growth. In reality this is difficult to gauge but few doubt the importance of a good broadband infrastructure.

The EC is expected to present all of its key broadband related proposals by the spring of 2013.

The Draft Regulation (Civil Engineering and Broadband)
http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/..

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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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