The EU has the goal that by 2020 it wants all of us no matter where we live in the European Union to have access to a 30 Mbps broadband connection and half of us to be buying a 100 Mbps service. To help with this medium term goal the EU is looking at how it can provide some regulatory certainty across the borders of the member states.
"Today’s guidance to regulators just doesn’t give businesses – old or new – the certainty they need to make investments. It’s time to change.
The sector needs more certainty to help it invest and grow. I want citizens to start enjoying the benefits of faster, next generation broadband networks.
In the absence of public funding to support better broadband, it’s vital that all companies have a stable and consistent system. That is how we can maximise investment and the infrastructure competition that encourages investment.
In our forthcoming legislative package we will be formalising a tighter set of the principles for encouraging investment. These principles were first outlined in July 2012. Now, after a year of intense collaboration with regulators we have refined them, and reached agreement. We are determined to deliver stable copper prices and fibre regulation that reflects market reality.
We need to lift price regulation of high-speed networks where it is not warranted, and make regulation of copper prices stable and consistent across the EU."Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes
This may be slightly cynical but does not keep talking about changing the rules introduce more regulatory uncertainty? Especially if as we suspect that any concrete changes will not emerge from the EU until around 2016 with the aim of kick starting the slow member states towards meeting the admirable target level.
The UK contrary to some voices is doing relatively well in terms of meeting the 30 Mbps for all target and if the retail price is right there is almost no doubt that half of us will be buying a 100 Mbps connection in seven years time, even now we have the best Next Generation Access coverage of the major EU countries and are investing serious amounts of money to improve this coverage. Admittedly not everyone agrees with the technology used or who the projects are partnering with and you can always do better.
If the EU does impose some formula across the EU for the price of copper based broadband (as in ADSL and ADSL2+, yes even the EU considers VDSL2 fibre broadband these days) it is difficult to see what operator will decide to invest billions to build a third local loop to compete with Openreach and Virgin Media as we have little doubt that any new entrant to the UK local loop market on a big scale will start in the large cities first.
Of course all of this might be mute, as if the Government plans do work out as planned, 95% of us will have access to superfast broadband in 2017, leaving around 1.5 million premises where more work is needed to hit the 2020 target.