The EU has announced a new consultation to bring gigabit internet connectivity to all citizens and businesses across its member states by 2030.
It said that given the rapid uptake of advanced digital technologies, there is an “urgent need” for more bandwidth at faster speeds.
The Gigabit Infrastructure Act aims to overcome the typically slow and costly deployment of the underlying physical infrastructure that is needed to sustain advanced networks.
The European Commission said it will reduce “red tape” and the costs and administrative burden associated with the deployment of the networks.
It will simplify and digitalise permitting procedures and coordinate civil works between network operators so that the underlying physical infrastructure, such as ducts and masts, can be built as quickly as possible. Such works represent up to 70 per cent of the costs of network deployment.
The new rules will also see all new or majorly renovated buildings, except in justified cases, equipped with fibre.
The draft recommendation aims to ensure that all operators can access existing network infrastructure, as part of efforts to incentivise the switch-off of legacy technologies.
The EU has previously taken action to improve connectivity at minimal cost to consumers such as putting an end to roaming charges across the EU and the launch of the WiFi4EU initiative that funded the setup of free Wi-Fi hotspots in local communities.
The European Commission has launched a consultation to identify the types of infrastructure needed for Europe to keep ahead of international rivals.
It also looks to determine who should foot the bill for the new infrastructure, with a suggestion that big tech firms like Facebook, Google and Amazon could be liable due to the extensive traffic they generate.
Network operators like Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica have previously lobbied for leading technology companies to contribute to 5G and broadband roll-out pointing out that they account for more than half of data internet traffic.
In response, tech firms have described the proposal as an internet tax that will undermine European Union network neutrality rules to treat all users equally.
“Meta invests tens of billions of dollars in our apps and platforms every year to facilitate the hosting of content, creating enormous value across the digital ecosystem,” a Meta spokesperson said.
“By not recognising that value flows both ways between telecoms companies and content-hosting platforms, this consultation is based on a false premise.”
In its last manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to install full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband in every home and business across the UK by 2025.
Although as of late 2022, just over 40 per cent of UK homes were able to access full-fibre broadband connections.
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