Digital Agenda: Commission opens public consultation on how to reduce the cost of rolling out high speed internet

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High-speed Internet underpins all sectors of the economy and will be the backbone of the Digital Single Market. For every 10% increase in the broadband penetration the economy grows by 1 to 1.5%. In this context the European Commission is seeking views on how to cut the costs of setting up new networks for high speed internet in the EU. In particular, the Commission wants to explore how to reduce the costs associated with civil engineering, such as the digging up of roads to lay down fibre, and which can account for as much as 80% of the total cost. The Commission believes it could cut the cost of broadband investments by a quarter. Input is sought from all interested public and private parties including telecoms and utility companies for instance, investors, public authorities and consumers.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “We need to cut the engineering costs of rolling-out broadband networks if we want to spread faster broadband across Europe. We need to test practical ideas on how to cut costs and how to make it easier to access, re-use and share this infrastructure. There is nothing more annoying for citizens than road-digging, and nothing more annoying to businesses than pointless red tape.”

Up to 80% of the total broadband investment cost is related to civil infrastructure works. The cost is so high because of a lack of coordination of civil engineering projects, insufficient re-use of existing infrastructure and lack of cooperation between the various actors. For example, water, energy, and railway companies often have their own infrastructure, and dig up roads without coordinating with telecoms companies. Faster roll-out is then further impeded by lengthy, non-transparent and cumbersome procedures for clearing rights of way and obtaining all necessary permits at national or local level. Here to read more.

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