EU Commissioner warns member states to back broadband in new budget

EU countries are considering diverting funds away from next gen networks

Europe's Digital Agenda Commissioner has warned E.U. member states that they cannot get away with not supporting broadband rollout and next generation networks.

The comments from Neelie Kroes come following suggestions that some countries want to divert Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds away from building next generation networks and into transport and energy instead.

"Every Council meeting is asking for more digital action, more digital progress," said Kroes. "Now they need to put their money where their mouths have been. Some politicians think broadband isn't sexy because you can't see it. Well, let me tell you that recession is even less sexy. And if you cut broadband investment, then you cut growth. We don't need more empty airports. We need a balanced investment program in Europe that targets investment at the sectors with strongest prospects for growth."

European Affairs ministers held an informal meeting on Thursday to discuss the E.U. budget for 2014-2020 of which CEF is a part. The total proposed funding is ¬50 billion (US$62.65 billion), but according to leaked reports, the telecommunications part has received less support by member states than transport and energy and the Council may reconsider "the size and relative weight given to the three strands" of the CEF.

ETNO, the industry group representing Europe's largest telecoms providers, said on its website that funds must not be diverted.

Meanwhile, Ireland announced on Thursday that it would allocate ¬200 million in state funding along with matching funds from private telecom companies as part of a national broadband plan. State aid clearance from the European Commission will almost certainly be required, in order to guarantee that public funds are not substituting for potential private sector investment.

The Commission has been very active in implementing Telecoms Directive rules in recent weeks, telling the Czech telecoms regulator to withdraw plans on access to its broadband networks.

The regulators in the Czech Republic, TÚ, wanted to include wholesale broadband services based on cable and Wi-Fi platforms in its definition of the wholesale broadband access product market. This would have partially lifted obligations on the main Czech telecoms operator Telefónica to give alternative operators access to its infrastructure.

And on Tuesday the Commission ordered the Polish telecoms regulator, UKE, to amend or withdraw its proposal to give alternative operators only limited access to Telekomunikacja Polska's fiber networks. In the Commission's view, UKE's decision could have a negative effect on competition and the future development of fiber networks.

These are the only two times that the Commission has issued such recommendations, but give a clear signal that the Commission may be at odds with member states on the issue of pushing next generation networks. Kroes plans to present draft guidelines on broadband access regulation before the end of the year.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?