House of Commons objects to EU broadband plans
The Clerk of the House of Commons has sent a letter to the President of the EU stating that the House of Commons objects to the draft measures aimed at reducing the cost of high-speed broadband roll-outs, on the basis that the measures do not comply with the principle of subsidiarity.
The draft regulations from the EU (EU document no. 7999/13) are aimed at four main sectors with the overall aim to reduce roll-out costs so that the 2020 objective of a connection capable of 30 Mbps is available to everyone across the EU.
- More intensive usage of existing physical infrastructure (ducts, poles, towers etc).
- Better cross-sector co-operation and transparency in planning civil works.
- streaminling permit granting applications; and
- removing obstables to high-speed-ready in-building instructure.
A further key part of the draft rules is that the EU says action is necessary to 'remove barriers to the functioning of the Single Market caused by the patchwork of rules at national and sub-national levels ... and creates barries to invest and operate cross-border'.
The House of Commons questions whether the proposed rule changes will have the effect expected, particularly with regards to any cross-border effects and that if the main aim is to reduce the cost of roll-out of superfast broadband then action would be best carried out at Member State level.
Looking at the four main principles the EU proposes, the UK is moving down these avenues already ahead of any EU level regulation, and the question is raised in the letter that any changes to regulations at the EU level may now delay innovation as investors wait to see what the outcome from the legislation is.
In theory if the BDUK projects succeed the UK has a time frame of five years to fill in the gaps to meet the EU 2020 targets, and some counties already have plans to continue the BDUK work beyond 2015 (both in part due to the delays and a desire to push beyond the baseline 90% target). Even if the BDUK projects fail it is likely that commercial roll-outs alone would have pushed superfast coverage to 85^ to 90% of the country by 2020 anyway.
The national picture for broadband beyond 2015 does lack a coherent vision, the EU 2020 30 Mbps for all target being the only clear target, but with the destruction of the funding pot it is difficult to see how the EU will force some 27 countries to adopt a new set of telecoms regulations while each country is funding the improvements themselves.
At the end of the day people without decent broadband care little about what is happening in the town just down the road, they want to know when it will be arriving in their area at the price they see on TV. Let alone what is happening in the next county, or in rural Germany and France.