[ec] The European Commission has today outlined how best to encourage private and public investment in fast and ultra-fast broadband networks. These will be essential to realising the commitments in the Digital Agenda for Europe to give every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra-fast broadband by 2020. In its Communication, the Commission calls on EU Member States to introduce operational broadband plans for high and ultra high speed networks with concrete implementing measures, it provides guidance on how to cut investment costs and indicates how public authorities may support broadband investment, including making better use of EU funds. It also announces plans by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to bring forward broadband finance instruments. The Communication forms part of a package of broadband measures presented by the Commission today (see IP/10/1142).
Bringing the high speeds to all parts of Europe will require substantial investment and enhance infrastructure competition. The Communication adopted by the Commission today outlines the policy and practical steps the Commission and Member States can take to trigger the €180 to € 270 billion of investment required to bring fast broadband to all households by 2020.
To achieve this, the Commission:
* Asks all Member States to adopt an operational broadband plan with concrete implementing measures including provisions for the necessary funding. Although many EU Member States already have a national broadband strategy, the Commission is calling on all Member State to ensure that they have fully operational plans for ultra-high speed networks with concrete implementing measures to achieve their targets
* Encourages Regional and Local Authorities to promote investment by reducing costs. It is estimated that around 80% of the costs of deploying new infrastructure are civil engineering costs and these can be greatly reduced by town planning and coordination measures and setting the right regulatory environment
* Announces plans by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to bring forward broadband finance instruments. Concrete proposals for new instruments will be unveiled by spring 2011. The European Investment Bank (EIB) already lends an average of €2bn each year to economically viable broadband projects. Recent beneficiaries have for instance included the French broadband operator Iliad, the Finnish operator DNA and the Portuguese operator Zon. The EIB's involvement in broadband financing is planned to increase as the Bank re-focuses its lending strategy on the Europe 2020 priorities. The EIB involvement will have a catalytic effect on other banks bringing in more funds for broadband and could underpin gross investment up to 15 times greater than the EIB's initial contribution.
* Promotes direct investment in infrastructure by public authorities in line with state aid rules .
* Stimulates the roll-out of broadband through better use of the EU's structural and rural development funds.
* Aims to accelerate the deployment of wireless technologies which offer broadband connections even faster than the Digital Agenda's target speed of 30Mbps speed and are cheaper than fixed line connections. To help accelerate this process, the Commission has adopted a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme jointly with the Broadband Communication.
Digital Agenda: Commission spells out plan to boost investment in broadband