miércoles, 12 de julio de 2017

EU Gigabit Society: Upgrading policy tools

Last september, the European Commission proposed a full renewal of the Union connectivity goals. Under the umbrella of the Gigabit Society the new targets included that all European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 Mbps by 2025. This means a significant upgrade regarding the target set in the Digital Agenda for Europe, which established that by 2020 internet speeds of 30 Mbps or above should be availaible for all European citizens.

For the purpose of achieving the connectivity goals of the Gigabit Society, the European Commission started the review of the European telecommunications legal framework. The proposed European Electronic Communications Code is supposed to include the adequate legal measures to boost the investments needed for this objective. But beyond the legal framework, other policy instrument should be deployed.

To begin with, the European Commission estimates  that €500 billion investment over the coming decade is needed in order to achieve ultra high speed broadband connectivity. This means that some kind of public intervention will be needed. Using again the European Commission figures, the needed public investment is likely to be a €155 billion.However, the EU Guidelines for the application of state aid rules in relation to the rapid deployment of broadband networks are still waiting a renewal. 30 Mbs is still the speed reference for the definition of which areas state could intervene without distorting compentence.

But there are other policy instruments where the connectivity speed goal taken as a reference should be renewed. It is also obvious that we need to renew the indicators used to follow the European progress on digitalisation. Nenvertheless, the connectivity dimension of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) still does not include the measurement of the availaibility and usage of 100 mbs connection.

So for achieving the Gigabit Society not only setting targets and creating a new legal is needed. Other policy instruments should be in place, and right now it looks that the European Union are still not thinking on it.

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