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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 26 March 2013

Less digging = cheaper broadband. Commission proposes rules to cut broadband installation costs

The European Commission today proposed new rules to cut by 30% the cost of rolling out high-speed Internet. Civil engineering, such as the digging up of roads to lay down fibre, accounts for up to 80% of the cost of deploying high-speed networks. Today's proposal may save companies €40 to 60 billion.

High-speed broadband is the backbone of the telecoms and wider Digital Single Market, the Commission is attempting to build. Its rollout is currently slowed down by a patchwork of rules and administrative practices at national and sub-national levels. "In most places, today's rules hurt Europe's competitiveness," said European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes.

Today's draft regulation builds on best practices in place today in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom, but leaves organisational issues very much to the discretion of Member States.

Neelie Kroes said: "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."

The Rules would become directly applicable across the EU after agreement by the European Parliament and Council.

The Commission 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.

There is currently little transparency on existing physical infrastructure suitable for broadband rollout and no appropriate commonly-used rules when deploying broadband across the EU. At the moment, there is no market-place for physical infrastructure and the potential to use infrastructure belonging to other utilities. Regulations in certain Member States even discourage utility companies from cooperating with telecom operators.


This initiative forms part of the 10 points plan to give a boost broadband rollout, as presented on the occasion of the mid-term review of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

The Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200) aims to deliver growth and employment based on high-speed communications networks. Considerable network deployment efforts are still necessary to achieve the ambitious broadband targets of the Digital Agenda: by 2013, basic broadband for all Europeans, and by 2020, (i) access to speeds of above 30 Mbps for all Europeans, and (ii) subscription of internet connection above 100 Mbps for 50% or more of European households. These goals will only be achieved if the infrastructure deployment costs are lowered across the EU.

The European Commission in a communication "European Broadband: investing in digitally driven growth" in 2010 announced the plans to complete a review of cost reduction practices for broadband by 2012. The European Council of 1 and 2 March 2012 called for action at the European Union level to provide better broadband coverage, including by reducing the cost of high-speed broadband infrastructure. The Communication "Single Market Act II: Together for new growth" identified cost reduction of broadband rollout as one of 12 key actions that will boost growth, employment and confidence in the Single Market and generate real effects on the ground. The European Council of 13 and 14 December 2012 called on the Commission to present all key proposals by the spring of 2013.

As part of these plans, the Public Consultation on an EU Initiative to reduce the cost of rolling out high speed communication infrastructure in Europe took place in 2012. Feedback confirmed that the Commissions' intention to address civil engineering costs for broadband roll-out across the single market is worth pursuing. A majority of the respondents confirmed existing inefficiencies and bottlenecks as well as the potential for cost reduction.

In addition to the public consultation, the Commission set up an Internet discussion platform for crowdsourcing ideas to reduce the cost of broadband.

Useful links

MEMO/13/287 What does the draft Regulation mean for...

Analysys Mason study

Hash Tag: #broadband; #singlemarket; #4G

Digital Agenda

Neelie Kroes

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Contacts :

Ryan Heath (+32 2 296 17 16), Twitter: @RyanHeathEU

Linda Cain (+32 2 299 90 19)

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