2021 is the final year of the first phase of the BCO Network: the European Commission initiative to support Member States to reach the connectivity targets and ensure high-speed broadband access for all citizens. The work plan for this year will seek to reinforce and expand the capacity of European BCOs to meet these objectives, while increasing recognition of their mandate within their national contexts, and strengthening their collaborative relationship with the European Commission.
To achieve this, the BCO Network’s Support Facility will offer a full capacity-building and knowledge-exchange programme featuring events, videos, publications and other resources focused on overcoming legal and technical hurdles, understanding and informing policy, engaging with key stakeholders, and making the most of EU funding and support.
The 2021 activities of the BCO Network Support Facility will therefore include, among others:
- dissemination of knowledge, including the exchange of current good practices
- animation of thematic groups to boost dialogue and exchange between BCOs, experts and European Commission representatives
- organisation of training sessions to increase the knowledge and capacity of BCOs
- involvement of BCOs in the preparation and running of activities
- interaction with stakeholders playing a relevant role for broadband deployment in the EU, Norway and the Western Balkans
- creation and dissemination of publications and videos to promote awareness of good practices, as well as EU policy initiatives, funding and support for broadband.
The topics and focus areas to be tackled in 2021 have, as in previous years, been requested by the BCOs themselves, and will be further developed by the Support Facility in collaboration with them and with the European Commission Directorates General who oversee the BCO Network initiative and contribute throughout the year to its enrichment:
- Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development
- Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology
- Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy
- Directorate General for Competition
These focus areas will include:
- Broadband programming under the new Multiannual Financial Framework
- CEF2 Digital
- Recovery and Resilience Facility
- Connectivity Toolbox
- Connectivity challenges in Outermost Regions
- State aid
- Broadband mapping
- Last mile connection
Important milestones for 2021 will also include:
- the revision of the EU State aid guidelines for broadband
- the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive Toolbox
- the end-of-year BCO Network Conference, which this year marks the end of the first phase of the BCO Network initiative, which was first launched by the Europen Commission in 2017.
To find out more about the BCO Network, discover ‘The BCO Network in 2020’ and explore the initiative’s landing page where you will find links to a wide range of resources and information on the project as well as on EU support for broadband development and video interviews with good practice broadband projects from across Europe.