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European Commission

Neelie Kroes

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Getting every home and town in Europe "broadband ready"

Press conference on Commission draft regulation to cut broadband installation costs /Brussels

26 March 2013

Broadband is economic oxygen. Today we announce measures to make it easier and cheaper to roll-out those essential high-speed networks: through better use of existing infrastructure, better coordination of future civil works; more streamlined permit procedures; and broadband-ready buildings. So more Europeans can enjoy more fast broadband; with less of the hassle and cost.

Today we waste a lot of time and billions of euros in the broadband planning stages.

We must cut this waste out of the system. All the more so given that member states proposed such a large cut in EU budget broadband spending,

We can't let citizens and businesses struggle by with blackouts and blackspots; forced to use networks that are unreliable, patchy, or slow.

Wider rollout would mean better opportunities for communities that are more isolated. And it would also boost our economy: 10 percentage points more broadband means 1 to 1.5% more GDP growth. Other parts of the world are racing ahead in this area – China, South Korea, the US. We can't get left behind.

So today we propose another step towards a telecoms single market.

We propose to act in four main areas to make better networks easier to build: first, cutting duplicate work. Putting broadband networks in place needs physical infrastructure: like ducts, cabinets, or towers. But often it's already available - and you can re-use infrastructure owned by others. Why spend extra money and effort duplicating what's already there? So this regulation will ensure telecoms companies know what is already out there, and will open up access to it – with fair and reasonable prices and conditions.

Second, we will increase coordination for new works. Making it easier for operators and providers to work together, especially when taxpayer money is at stake. And cutting the cost and hassle of repeated roadworks.

Third, the red tape in getting permits adds complexity and cost – jeopardising the broadband boost. Including for mobile. Under our proposal, conditions would be more transparent, requests could be made through a single point, and by default decisions should be taken within 6 months.

Fourth, we will ensure broadband-ready buildings. All new buildings and major renovations will have to be equipped for high-speed broadband.

It's common sense: it's what citizens want, and it's a good property investment. After all, these days you wouldn't buy a new house or office that didn't have electricity or running water.

Today, these rules vary from country to country; sometimes even from town to town. That fragmentation is crazy: the EU should clean it up.

We are acting, by the way, on request from the European Council. This is something the Member States have asked for. It is also a priority of our "Single Market Act 2" package.

And no wonder. It's essential to our single market. And all together these measures could save between 40 and 60 billion euros; that could make achieving our broadband targets up to 30% cheaper. It will cut repeated roadworks: meaning fewer traffic jams, less noise and less nuisance. Plus, it will give infrastructure owners, public and private, the option of a new revenue stream, from leasing their assets.

A digital single market is essential to our growth and competitiveness: we must ensure the networks to underpin it. I look forward to working with the European Parliament and Council with a view to finalising this Regulation in 2014.

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