EC proposes broadband installation savings

European Commission (EC) proposes to cut costs of installing fibre broadband by 30% to address the lack of standards across Europe

New rules to cut the deployment costs of fibre broadband have been laid out by the European Commission (EC), with an aim of encouraging a faster roll-out of the technology.  

The draft regulation aims for a 30% reduction of the bill of civil engineering – namely digging up roads –which the EC claimed accounted for 80% of deploying superfast broadband. The reduction could be equivalent to between €40bn and €60bn for network operators. 

"Everyone deserves fast broadband,” said Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the EC and responsible for the digital agenda. “I want to burn the red tape that is stopping us for getting there.”

There are four main parts to the proposal, which the EC claims build on existing best practices in place today in a number of EU states, including the UK.  

First was to ensure new and renovated buildings came fully equipped with superfast broadband, meaning fibres could be laid when building works were already providing the holes in the ground to deploy.  

Second was putting in place a precedent to open up existing infrastructure, such as ducts, manholes, cabinets and poles for other operators to run their fibre down or across.

Third, the EC wanted better coordination between network operators and civil works so if, for example, a road was being dug-up by the council or another utility supplier, both organisations could take advantage and halve the costs involved.

The final suggestion was aimed at cutting the red tape, as Kroes suggested, by simplifying the process of getting a permit for works, making sure applications were processed within six months and all requests could be made through a single point of contact.

"In most places, today's rules hurt Europe's competitiveness," added Kroes. “The EC wants to make it quicker and cheaper to get that broadband."

The proposals will now go to the European Council for approval before anything gets written into legislation. However, the EC promised the “organisational issues” of putting these regulations in place will “very much [be left] to the discretion of member states.”

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