EPRSLibrary By / October 29, 2013

Deploying ultra fast broadband

The Digital Agenda for Europe has set up ambitious targets to boost ultra-fast broadband penetration in Europe: by 2020, there should be…

© Syda Productions / Fotolia

The Digital Agenda for Europe has set up ambitious targets to boost ultra-fast broadband penetration in Europe: by 2020, there should be access to speeds of above 30 Mbps for all Europeans (currently at 54%) and subscription of Internet connection above 100 Mbps for 50% or more of European households. However, the latest measurement shows that this is still far from being a reality since only 2% of households are connected at speeds of 100 Mbps and above and thus much efforts are needed to accomplish the target by 2020.

In order to improve the situation, the European Commission (EC) among other things has proposed three policy actions: firstly, a new funding instrument, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

© Shutterstock 2012 / Fotolia
© Shutterstock 2012 / Fotolia

Secondly,  a proposal for a Regulation to lower the next generation fibre networks’ deployment costs and thirdly, a proposal for a Recommendation on Costing Methodologies and Non-Discrimination to increase investments levels and reduce divergences between regulators. The later is part of a broader legislative proposal to bring a digital single market by 2015.

Among other things, it is necessary that infrastructure deployment costs are lowered across the EU. This is being considered in the current EC proposal for a Regulation Measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (see:2013/0080(COD)).), which aims to lower the barriers to investment and market entry.  A study mentioned in its impact assessmentestimates that if measures were taken to address the problems identified, the potential capital savings to operators are in the range of 20–30% of total investment costs (i.e. up to EUR 63 billion by 2020).

More broadly, the economic benefits of broadband have been demonstrated in different studies and reports,  some of which have been referenced below in this key source: For instance, as recalled in the Communication on the Single Market Act II, a 10% increase in broadband penetration can result in a 1-1.5 % increase in the GDP annually and 1.5% labour productivity gains. Broadband-induced innovation in companies creates employment and has the potential to generate 2 million extra jobs by 2020. Moreover, next generation fibre networks are needed to support advance services and applications such as cloud computing, smart cities, or e-Health and the increasing data traffic demand in fixed and mobile networks.

On the CEF (2011/0302(COD)) , the ITRE/TRAN Committees approved an agreement at a joint committee meeting on 07/10/2013. The CEF should have a budget of about €29.3 billion in total for the period 2014-2020 to fund projects of common interest for trans-European transport, energy and telecoms networks; out of which, the funding dedicated to telecommunication projects would be about €1 billion and mainly to cross-european public services deployment (a considerable reduction from the initially EC proposed €9.2 billion).  The agreement is still subject to EP approval (See the tabled report for plenary A7-0021/2013 ).


Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent – COM(2013) 627.

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Connecting Europe Facility , COM(2011) 665:this is the main legislative proposal from the EC made in 2011 to boost ultra fast broadband investment in the EU through the CEF funds.

2011/0302(COD) Connecting Europe Facility/ Legislative Observatory, procedural file, tabled for plenary. The dossier including the EP draft report views on the CEF and Council summary ones and the main calendar and key documents

2010/572/EU: Commission Recommendation of 20 September 2010 on regulated access to Next Generation Access Networks (NGA). This Recommendation primarily covers remedies to be imposed upon operators designated with Significant Market Power (SMP) on the basis of a market analysis procedure

Directive 2009/140/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council/ Common regulatory framework for electronic communications ammending the previous telecom package directives.

Implementation report on the regulatory framework for electronic communications (2013/2080(INI)), ITRE committee, rapporteur Catherine Trautmann.


Impact assessment – SWD(2013) 74 final: Commission staff working paper accompaining the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high speed electronic communications networks COM(2013) 147 final

Impact assessment Connected Continent SWD (2013) 331 final: Accompanying the document Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012.

Impact Assessment -SEC/2011/1229: Commission staff working paper accompaining the proposal COM(2011) 665.

Guide to broadband investment, final report: / DG REGIO, EC, 2011, 119 pages. First guide produced by the european Commission  to advise public authorities managing EU funds on the strenghts and weaknesses of different high speed broadband investment models and on challenges at the technological, regulatory and policy level for each of these models.   

Commission staff working document on the implementation of national broadband plans SWD(2012) 68 final/2 (see sections 4.3. Spectrum policy, and 3.1.2. Mobile networks)It summarises the current state of play in national broadband plans and good practices in the countries

The Zettabyte Era—Trends and Analysis , 2013: this is the latest Cisco’s Visual Networking Index forecast, which projects global IP traffic to triple from 2012 to 2017. It focuses on mobile internet and its impact on Internet use.

Support for the preparation of an impact assessment to accompany an EU initiative on reducing the costs of high-speed broadband infrastructure deployment, Analysis Mason, EC 2012.: Analysys Mason’s latest study for the EC investigates policy measures that could help reduce the cost of deploying high-speed broadband (mainly fibre but it also consider wireless and includes some case country studies ).

Study on the socio-economic impact of bandwidth (SMART 2010/0033): includes both fixed and mobile broadband and many cases studies. (see link to the PDF/study at the end of that link above)

Study on the implementation of existing broadband guidelines/  WIK consulting, 2011, 231 Pages: This is a relevant study which contributed to the Broadband guidelines developed by the EC. WIK was present as a speaker in a recent workshop on the topic organised by the ITRE committe. The presentation is available on this link.

Next Generation Networks, / a study from the EP policy department A for the ITRE Committe, 2009, 70 Pages: This report summarised relevant policy and regulatory matters at EU level that are raised by the evolution of fixed and mobile networks into Next Generation Networks (NGN)

BEREC report on  Co-investment and SMP in NGA networks/BEREC , 2012, 60 Pages: This report provides advice with specific sets of conditions and criteria considered to be suitable indicators of effective competititon to national regulatory authorities facing NGA co-investment agreements in their national markets.

‘Building the European Digital Infrastructure’, EP workshop, 2012: Here EP Policy department report on the proceedings of the workshop, 2012.

Entertainment x.0 to Boost Broadband Deployment, WIK, TNO and RAND 2013: EP study from DGIPOL policy department A, (IP/A/ITRE/ST/2012): this document explores and analyses available broadband data in order provide a picture of the broadband deployment, adoption, and usage situation in the EU from a number of different policy perspectives.

Broadband Access in the EU: An Assessment of Future Economic Benefits, Gruber&Koutroumpis, EIB, 2013


Digital Agenda scoreboard (for the latest EU broadband statistics): A very relevant yearly scoreboard analysis on the progress made in the different pillars of the Digital Agenda: pillar 4 focus is on deploying broadband Internet in Europe by 2020, including ultra fast broadband. The statistics included come either from Eurostat, or from EC comissioned studies and other international sources.

State of the Telecom sector in Europe, EC, 2013: This relevant and concise policy analysis document (section 1 of the digital agenda scoreboard 2013) includes investment/mobile traffic data but mainly for EU /other geographical regions’ aggregates, rather than for individual countries. It includes references to many relevant studies which you might want to consult further.

Fast and ultra fast Internet access, EC, 2013: This relevant document (section 2 of the digital agenda scoreboard 2013) includes mainly an analysis of the fixed broadband market.

OECD broadband statistics update, 2013: Data and charts for the latest broadband statistics (December 2012 ) are available here.(including historical series).

The World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures: The report includes 2013 estimates for ITU’s key telecommunication/ICT indicators. It highlights the latest global ICT trends and includes among others figures on fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions and prices.

Measuring the Internet Economy, OECD, 2013.

Stakeholder views

Results from the EC public consultation SEC(2011) 870 final: see the stakeholders input analysis on section 1.4, pag.6

Results of the EC public consultation “EU initiative to reduce the cost of rolling out high speed communication infrastructure in Europe, 26/03/2013.

Digital Agenda: public consultations on access to telecoms networks/ EC, 2011: These two consultations included many position papers from a wide range of stakeholders’ perpectives at EU, national and local levels

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