A Digital Agenda for Europe

On May 20th the European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes presented her “Digital Agenda for Europe”.  She recognises that, without strong public intervention, there is a risk of a “sub-optimal outcome”, with fast broadband networks concentrated in a few high-density zones with significant entry costs and high prices.  She believes that the spill-over benefits created by such networks for the economy and society justify public policies guaranteeing universal broadband coverage with increasing speeds.

 The Commission proposes to adopt in 2010 a Broadband Communication that will:

 • Reinforce and rationalise the funding of high-speed broadband through EU instruments (e.g. ERDF, ERDP, EAFRD, TEN, CIP) by 2014 and explore how to attract capital for broadband investments through credit enhancement (backed by the EIB and EU funds).  National, EU and EIB funding instruments should be used for well targeted broadband investments in areas where the business case is currently weak and, therefore, only such focused intervention can render investments sustainable.

• Propose a European Spectrum Policy Programme in 2010 to increase the efficiency of radio spectrum management;

• Issue a Recommendation in 2010 to encourage investment in competitive Next Generation Access networks through clear and effective regulatory measures (thas has been postponed from June until September, after incumbent operators voiced concerns).

 The Commission is encouraging Member States to do the following:

 • Develop national broadband plans by 2012 that meet the coverage and speed and take-up targets defined in Europe 2020 (see below), using public financing in line with EU competition and state aid rules;

• Take measures to facilitate broadband investment, such as making sure that civil engineering works systematically involve potential investors, clearing rights of way, mapping available passive infrastructure suitable for cabling and upgrading in-building wiring;

• Use the Structural and Rural Development Funds that are already earmarked for investment in ICT infrastructures and services;

• Implement both the European Spectrum Policy Programme (so as to ensure the allocation of the spectrum needed to meet the target of 100% coverage of 30mbps internet by 2020) and the NGA Recommendation.

 The Europe 2020 Strategy (published in March) underlined the importance of broadband deployment to promote social inclusion and competitiveness in the EU.  It stated the objective to bring basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and seeks to ensure that, by 2020, (i) all Europeans have access to much higher internet speeds of above 30 Mbps and (ii) 50% or more of European households subscribe to internet connections above 100 Mbps.

The full text of the Digital Agenda communication can be found here:



About Ayres End Consulting
Telecoms consultant specialising in interconnect, regulation & public policy.

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