The long-awaited legislation on telecommunications policy has been released by the European Commission. This includes a consultation on the future of the telecoms market, looking at the anticipated investment needed to support the next generation of networks and connected services, as well as the proposed Gigabit Infrastructure Act and Gigabit Recommendation, designed to support a faster, cheaper, and more effective roll-out and take-up of gigabit-speed networks across the EU.
Given the growing adoption of cutting-edge digital technologies, there would be an urgent need for more network bandwidth at faster speeds to enable smarter, more flexible, and more innovative services for businesses, citizens, and key public sectors. These services will be powered by the development and use of technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), data spaces, virtual reality, and the metaverse, in which European citizens can exercise their digital rights. The Gigabit Infrastructure Act is a response to the expanding demand for access that is quicker, more dependable, and data-intensive in this context. The Internet Expense Reduction Regulation will be replaced by it (2014).
The goal of the Gigabit Infrastructure Act is to address the issue of the expensive and time-consuming implementation of the core physical infrastructure supporting cutting-edge Gigabit networks. It would lower ‘red tape,’ expenses, and the regulatory load related to the installation of Gigabit networks. It would help streamline and digitize licensing processes, among other things.
To install the underlying physical infrastructure, such as pipelines and antennas, and to guarantee that the appropriate players have access to it, network providers would be better able to coordinate their civic works. Up to 70% of the price of deploying a network is made up of such tasks. In addition, all new or significantly remodeled structures must be fiber-optic-equipped, unless there are valid reasons not to, so that residents can take advantage of the quickest access options. The new regulations would enable carriers to quickly implement networks through streamlined, digitalized, and less expensive processes.
The Council and the European Parliament will now review the draft Directive. The new regulations will be immediately applied in all of the Member States following the co-legislators’ approval of the EU Commission’s plan.
The proposed Gigabit Proposal centers on giving national regulating bodies (NRAs) direction regarding the requirements for reaching the networks of those carriers who possess a sizable amount of market power. All carriers should be able to utilize this current network infrastructure when necessary, according to the proposed recommendation. By promoting pricing flexibility for access to regulated networks, for instance, it can foster fast Gigabit network deployment and ensure an adequate regulatory environment, encourage the switch-off of legacy technologies without undue delay, i.e. within 2 to 3 years, and enable sustainable competition. The actions would also help customers profit from a unified market for electronic communications in Europe, which will result in improved services delivered over networks of superior quality at competitive rates.
The Council of European Regulators (BEREC) has received the written recommendation for a two-month review period. The Commission will approve its ultimate Proposal after considering BEREC’s viewpoint. The Next Generation Connectivity Recommendation (2010) and the Non-discrimination and Costing Methods Recommendation will be replaced by the Gigabit Recommendation (2013).
Consultation on Future of Telecoms Sector
A comprehensive preliminary consultation on the future of the networking industry and its infrastructure has just been started by the Commission. The objective is to collect opinions on how the industry for electronic communications may be impacted by the evolving technical and business environment.
It specifically aims to pinpoint the kinds of infrastructure required for Europe to stay abreast of game-changing technological advancements and to take the lead on the continent’s digital transition in the ensuing years. The consultation also solicits opinions from stakeholders on how to guarantee that the funds necessary to deploy such infrastructure are promptly mobilized throughout the Union.
Open and Impartial Internet
The preliminary consultation is part of a wider discussion with all parties involved about whether it might be necessary for all parties who stand to gain financially from the digital transition to equitably share in the costs of investing in broadband infrastructure. Before determining the need for further action, it would be important to conduct a thorough study of the underlying facts and figures because this is a complicated problem. The EU Commission is steadfastly dedicated to preserving an open and impartial Internet.
The con consultation also addresses how to move toward a more integrated ‘single market’ for the connectivity sector and how to guarantee that broadband is affordable for customers.
Within 12 weeks, all interested organizations, companies, and individuals are asked to finish the survey. The submitting deadline is Monday, May 19, 2023. On the outcomes, the EU Commission will report. The results of the survey will be used to determine the best course of action for the future of the electronic communications industry.
The EU has taken action in a number of areas to increase connectedness, which may have substantial socioeconomic advantages, while spurring employment creation and economic growth, and encouraging the creation of cutting-edge goods, services, and applications for EU companies and residents. Roaming fees have been eliminated throughout the EU, and the WiFi4EU project, which financed the installation of free Wi-Fi sites in local areas, has been introduced.
Additionally, the EU offers financial aid, creates technological guidelines, and gathers specialists to assist companies and governmental agencies working to expand network coverage and roll out 5G networks across Europe. The updated Rules on State Aid for Broadband Networks were approved by the Commission. The ‘Smart Networks and Services Joint Venture,’ a significant research project to create 6G networks, has been started to lay out the plan and the resources needed to create the technological capabilities for 6G systems.
The goal of the Digital Decade is to have gigabit networks in every home in Europe by 2030, as well as networks with at least 5G speed in every inhabited region.
The European Electronic Communications Code, the 2020 Relevant Markets Proposal, and the Connectivity Toolkit, in particular, outline the EU’s pro-investment regulation structure for the telecommunications markets.