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EU Aims for Universal 100Mbps Ultrafast Broadband Coverage by 2025

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 (3:39 pm) - Score 1,210

A leaked draft of a new report from the European Commission has revealed that the EU intends to set a new target for broadband and mobile coverage, which will aim to ensure that “all European households” can get a minimum Internet download speed of 100Mbps (Megabits per second) by 2025.

The existing Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) programme currently seeks to ensure that every home in the EU can access a 30Mbps+ capable Next Generation Access (NGA) superfast broadband connection, with 50% subscribed to a 100Mbps+ service, by the year 2020.

You can get a good idea of how various member states aim to achieve the above target by looking at this summary of EU broadband plans, which of course includes the UK’s own target to reach 95% of the country by 2017/18 (note: we’re likely to hit 97% by 2019). The UK is making good progress towards this (comparison), but many other EU member states are likely to miss the goal.

Never the less the EC remains determined to foster a “Gigabit Society” and as such the leaked document claims that the EU’s future policy will seek to prioritise investment towards Gigabit capable connectivity (i.e. broadband connections that can deliver speeds of 1 Gigabit per second [roughly 1000Mbps]) between 2020 and 2025.

However the new policy would only propose 100Mbps+ as a minimum for 100% households, although it anticipates that 100% of “socio-economic drivers” (i.e. schools, businesses, public sector buildings etc.) would need to be covered by “cost effective symmetrical 1Gbps+ capable connections by 2025. Easier said than done.

eu_2025_broadband_objectives

The Gigabit Society proposals also cover 5G mobile and other digital services, but most of those contain predictable / known targets (e.g. beginning the roll-out of 5G by 2020 and completing it by 2025 etc.) and are largely viable. But the new proposal for a minimum speed of 100Mbps by 2025 could be more of a challenge, which is of course precisely why the EC has proposed it.

At present it’s widely expected that BT’s commercial G.fast roll-out, which will commence from next summer 2017, and Virgin Media’s on-going cable network expansion should bring broadband speeds of around 100-300Mbps to most of the UK (around 60-70%) without recourse to public funding by 2020.

BT has also promised to extend G.fast to most UK homes by 2025, but that probably won’t push the overall coverage figure much beyond 60-70% as by then Virgin Media will have already been able to deliver into most of the same areas. On top of that 5G based Mobile Broadband should also be able to deliver 100Mbps+ and this will play a role, although mobile performance is notoriously variable and can become much slower outside of urban areas.

Once again the challenge will be to bring ultrafast speeds to the final 30% (aka – the final third), which would probably require another repeat of the Broadband Delivery UK programme, albeit with G.fast instead of FTTC (VDSL) being the main technology and another large dollop of public funding. The former Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, has already hinted at this (here). On the other hand altnets, such as Gigaclear and Hyperoptic, will have achieved a lot more scale by then and so BT will no longer be the only game in town.

Mind you there is the small matter of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU (Brexit), which could complete by around 2020 and might technically excuse the UK from having to meet the new target. However we don’t yet know what approach the Brexit model will take, but in any case we’d like to think that the Government will not rest on its laurels and would instead strive to keep us competitive with the EU.

Getting back to the leaked report, the EC has now called on the European Council and European Parliament to endorse the new direction and we suspect they will do exactly that. Under the plan their new approach could be formally adopted by the end of 2017, with implementation beginning in 2019. Credits go to EuroActiv for leaking the report.

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Steve Jones

    What force would such a target have anyway? It doesn’t sound like a directive which would have legal force. The biggest change it might make is probably changes to state aid rules or most likely this would never happen. Of course it is moot now (assuming the current government actually invokes article 50), but it would still have the ability to embarrass in European comparisons.

  2. Avatar cyclope

    Good for the EU that we hopefully wont be a member of for very much longer

    • Avatar born-cynical

      Yes, I’m sure we will have the last laugh in 2025 when BT have just about made 10mbit available to (most of) our great Britain (who asked for it)… 😐

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