Brussels, 8 April 2005
High-speed internet access via the electricity grid: Commission seeks to create new market opportunities
Using electric power supply lines to offer low-cost high speed internet access will be made easier thanks to a Commission recommendation issued today. The recommendation, which is addressed to the Member States, aims to clarify rules on using electric power cables to carry electronic communication data. The Commission thereby intends to boost competition by opening up the market to new suppliers of high-speed “broadband” connections via the electricity grid. Internet access via power lines has so far taken hold in only a few urban areas, but the potential is huge: the EU has 200 million power lines running directly into houses, schools and businesses.
“Affordable high-speed internet access is vital to sustain EU competitiveness in many businesses, large and small. I want to make sure that suppliers can exploit all technological possibilities, and that we combine forces in Europe to boost broadband deployment,” commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “Innovative technologies shall be given the opportunity to demonstrate their viability and contribute to growth in Europe,” said Vice President Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry. “The prerequisite is a clear and balanced regulatory environment for attracting new players and new investment to the power line broadband communications market. This Commission recommendation will provide this clarity. Member States and innovative broadband service suppliers now face the challenge of making the most of this opportunity”.
Energy market liberalisation across the EU is creating new opportunities for power utility companies to exploit their existing power supply cables to create an alternative broadband supply route. In many cases, uncertainty about the rules governing this market has been a barrier to entry. To ensure that the rules are clear, the Commission has discussed the recommendation, and arrangements for implementing it, at length with EU Member States.
The Commission recommends that Member States remove any unjustified regulatory obstacles, in particular from utility companies, on the deployment of broadband power line communications systems.
The recommendation details how to apply the provisions of the electromagnetic compatibility directive. Its provisions are thus compatible with existing legislation and with the new electromagnetic compatibility directive, which takes effect in mid-2007 (see IP/05/8).
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