Following the Commission’s Recommendation on developing a Connectivity Toolbox, published in September, the Member States shared individual input and gathered the most efficient measures for reaching the two aims, by identifying main trends and providing examples of the reported best practices from national experience.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal market, said:
Faster and more efficient networks will benefit every citizen and every business in Europe. We have set clear priorities, including though the Recovery and Resilience Facility, to remove obstacles to digital investments and pave the way for the deployment of gigabit networks. We are therefore determined to achieve them by working together, learning from each other and acting timely.
The timely availability of faster, secure, and reliable network connections will support Europe’s recovery; citizens will be able to enjoy better digital platforms for education and public services, while business will have better tools to engage with customers. In the Connectivity Toolbox Recommendation, the Commission urged Member States to identify and share best practices by 20 December 2020, as a first stage. The Commission has set up a Special Groupfor Member States to cooperate with one another and the Commission and to develop by 30 March 2021 the Toolbox of best practices for an efficient and timely rollout of very high capacity networks, including fibre and 5G, across the EU.
Cutting the cost of network rollout
Ensuring that advanced and more sustainable electronic communications networks are deployed in an efficient, faster and less costly manner, is critical for working towards reaching the 2025 Gigabit objectives. The best practices reported by the Member States in this area relate to a variety of aspects from streamlining administrative procedures for granting network installation permits, including:
- permit exemptions or replacement of permit by notification systems
- establishing the Single Information Point (SIP) as a single entry point for submitting applications for permits and/or through electronic means
- enhancing the availability of information relevant for sharing existing physical infrastructure (e.g. making information available via a single data portal or making available georeferenced information through different means)
- expanding access rights to physical infrastructures
- reducing the environmental footprint of electronic communication networks (e.g. the development of an environmental strategy for the ICT sector)
Access to 5G radio spectrum
The timely rollout of 5G is the fast track to innovation. 5G connectivity will bring major opportunities to enhance education and entertainment, and to transform business and industry. It will launch revolutions across sectors, in medical procedures, patient care, factory safety and precision, automated transport, and more. Timely and efficient access to radio spectrum is a major pre-condition for deploying 5G wireless networks and the take-up of innovative 5G services.
The reported best practices in assigning 5G radio spectrum focus on
- financial incentives as part of the spectrum auction process, to ensure investment-friendly conditions (e.g. setting spectrum prices according to international benchmarks or payment of auction fees in longer-term instalments)
- coherent spectrum assignment in support of industrial 5G use cases with a cross-border dimension (e.g. frequency coordination and cooperation agreements to ensure seamless cross-border services for emergency services, road and rail transport)
- public transparency on the subject of Electromagnetic fields (EMF) with 5G rollout
As a next milestone, the Member States should agree on the final best practices by 30 March 2021. The EU Toolbox of best practices will help Member States reach the Gigabit connectivity goals by 2025 and support the objectives of the European Electronic Communications Code, which will apply in Member States from 21 December 2020. The implementation of the Toolbox can contribute to the Member States´ preparation of their intended reforms in the context of the recovery and resilience plans in the area of digital, to which 20% of the funds have to be allocated.
The shared practices build upon some of the areas covered by the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive. The Commission continues working on reviewing the Directive and recently launched a public consultation to gather views on current measures and proposed updates in view of regulatory, technological and market developments.