Europe Looking to Cut the Cost of Landline Broadband Services

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The European Commission has proposed new rules to cut nearly a third off cost of rolling out high speed Internet. Civil engineering such as the digging up of roads to lay down fibre accounts for up to 80% of the cost of deploying high speed networks. Today's proposal may save companies EUR40 60 billion.

The Commission says that high-speed broadband rollout is currently slowed down by a patchwork of rules and administrative practices at national and sub-national levels. "In most places, today's rules hurt Europe's competitiveness," said European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes.

Today's draft regulation builds on best practices in place today in some countries, but leaves organisational issues very much to the discretion of Member States. The Rules would become directly applicable across the EU after agreement by the European Parliament and Council.

The Commission wants to ensure the opening of access to existing infrastructure on fair and reasonable terms and conditions, including price, to existing ducts, conduits, manholes, cabinets, poles, masts, antennae installations, towers and other supporting constructions.

It also wants simplifying of complex and time-consuming permit granting, especially for masts and antennas, by granting or refusing permits within six months by default and allowing requests to be made through a single point of contact.

The Commission also noted that there is currently little transparency on existing physical infrastructure suitable for broadband rollout and no appropriate commonly-used rules when deploying broadband across the EU. At the moment, there is no market-place for physical infrastructure and the potential to use infrastructure belonging to other utilities. Regulations in certain Member States even discourage utility companies from cooperating with telecom operators.

This initiative forms part of the 10 points plan to give a boost broadband rollout, as presented on the occasion of the mid-term review of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

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