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Europe Adopts New Rules to Cut Broadband Deployment Costs

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 (2:18 pm) - Score 1,246

The Council of the European Union last week formally adopted new rules that aim to make it both “easier and cheaper” to roll-out ultrafast broadband networks, such as fibre optic infrastructure. In addition the new rules also call for a voluntary “Broadband-Ready” label on buildings with high-speed access and for all new builds after 31st December 2016 to be constructed “high-speed ready“.

The measures, which have been in the works since early last year (here), claim that civil works (e.g. digging up roads) can account for the lion’s share of development costs (sometimes as much as 80%) and it’s hoped that the new package will help to reduce this by around 20-30% (possibly saving EU telecoms operators between £35 – £50 billion).

Naturally such a reduction would be a big help to Europe’s wider Digital Agenda strategy, 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.

But it is important to note that many of the changes, especially in regards to infrastructure access, won’t have much of an impact in the United Kingdom where similar rules already exist (e.g. the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 and BT’s not terribly well adopted Physical Infrastructure Access product). Never the less there are some interesting changes that developers in the UK will need to be mindful of.

The Directive Includes the Following Provisions

Access to existing infrastructure
Every network operator – that is, telecoms operators or undertakings active in other sectors, such as electricity distribution or waste water treatment – will have the right to offer telecoms operators access to its infrastructure for the purpose of broadband installation. Network operators will have the obligation to meet all reasonable requests for access to their infrastructure as provided for in the directive. Possible grounds for refusal include technical unsuitability, safety, public health or network security.

Access to infrastructure information
In order to be able to effectively plan the deployment of high-speed broadband, telecoms operators will have the right to access, via a single information point, the following minimum information concerning an infrastructure: location, route, type and current use, and a contact point. Similar information would be available about planned infrastructure work.

Where this information is not available via the single information point, the telecoms operators may request it directly from the network operator.

If the question of access to information gives rise to a dispute, any party may refer the case to a national dispute settlement body, which will issue a binding decision. This does not affect the possibility of any party to refer the case to a court.

Coordination of civil works
Network operators will have the right to negotiate agreements on the coordination of civil works with telecoms operators for the purpose of broadband deployment.

If no agreement on such civil work coordination is reached within one month, any party can refer the issue to the competent national dispute settlement body. While the parties must cooperate fully with the dispute settlement body, any party also has the possibility to refer the case to a court.

Dispute settlement bodies and single information points
The tasks of the national dispute settlement body may be undertaken by one or more competent bodies. Similarly, the functions of the single information point may be performed by one or more national, regional or local-level bodies.

Member states may allow these bodies to charge fees to cover their costs.

New buildings
All new buildings – and those undergoing major renovation – for which applications for building permission have been submitted after 31 December 2016 must be high-speed ready. Member states may provide for exemptions where this would lead to disproportionate costs and for specific types of building such as historic buildings and holiday homes.

“Broadband-ready” label
Member states may choose to introduce a voluntary “broadband-ready” label for buildings with high-speed access.

Property rights
The telecoms operators’ rights to access physical infrastructure under this directive are consistent with the normal exercise of property rights, that is, the rights of the owner of the land or of the building in which the infrastructure is located.

The move means that member states, such as the United Kingdom, must adopt national provisions to comply with the new directive by 1st January 2016 and they must then be enforced from 1st July 2016. Credits to Thinkbroadband for spotting this development, which slipped under the radar.

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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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1 Response
  1. Avatar Phil says:

    Should have be ready three years ago. Far too late, little too late. Should have FTTH by now in nationwide UK but BT don’t want to do it.

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