Widespread high quality connectivity will play a significant role in the response to the COVID-19 crisis, as it will ensure network stability and lay the foundations for future economic growth. Investments in widespread connectivity will help sustain jobs in the short-term, when aggregate demand is low. In the medium- to long-term, the infrastructure will be instrumental in making Europe more competitive through enabling the take-up of new digital services like industry 4.0 applications, smart cities, or connected cars, all of which would benefit from a reduction in broadband deployment costs.
Networks inevitably feel the strain as a result of a surge in activities now conducted online, notably via large numbers of people suddenly working and studying from home. During this crisis data traffic increased as much as 50 per cent in some markets. Operators are investing in added capacity in order to ensure their networks remain as robust and secure as ever.
In this context, the review of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (BCRD) should result in an effective pan-European instrument for network deployment, which is vital in connecting Europe for a better and digital future.
To increase the BCRD’s effectiveness, so it would incentivize and facilitate the deployment of future networks efficiently, its scope should be widened, for example by putting stronger emphasis on the cost reduction for the deployment of mobile networks. Ultimately, increased costs of compliance and deployment result in worse consumer and socioeconomic outcomes. Therefore, consistent, harmonized and efficient procedures for Member States should be introduced. Thus, it would also significantly contribute to achieving Digital Single Market.
To achieve the goals of this review, the GSMA strongly recommends including the following changes in the review:
- Improve and expand the access to any suitable physical infrastructure belonging to any private or public entity;
- Ensure an effective application of measures on transparency;
- Prescribe more effective and simplified permit granting procedures: harmonised and streamlined EU rules, or at least nationally consistent rules, is the only way to overcome the granularity and inefficiency at the local and municipal level;
- Introduce an ambitious pro-investment approach – In addition to the alignment with the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and stronger harmonisation and enforcement of current measures, such approach will provide an enhanced new framework for public authorities and network operators to ensure a more cost-efficient deployment of sustainable networks;
- Support, in line with the EECC cooperation initiatives, as network sharing in mobile, a co-investment in fixed and common projects (e.g. edge cloud). Most of these initiatives are also in line with the “green” objectives as they allow to share costs and they are environmental-friendly.
Designing these rules at EU level is definitively a priority, but likewise is the monitoring of their effective application at national level and making sure rules are enforced in practice. Unless this is achieved, reviewing the existing framework would still carry along the shortcomings of the incomplete application of previous rules. Therefore, this revision should incentivize Member States to more effectively enforce the legal instrument and achieve its goals. Its adoption should accelerate the implementation of the new measures, contributing to the achievement of the 2025 gigabit society targets.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Director, Public Policy, Europe, GSMA
Tomas Jakimavicius is a Public Policy Director for the European region at the GSMA. He is working on government and regulatory affairs, where he focuses on the EU telecoms & digital regulatory and policy developments that affect mobile communications industry. In his role, he creates public affairs strategies for the GSMA membership, as well as facilitates the association members when executing advocacy campaigns geared toward their public policy and business goals.
Prior to joining the GSMA, Tomas has served as a diplomat with the Lithuanian Permanent Representation to the EU, where he represented Lithuania at the EU Council as the Telecoms and Digital Affairs Attaché in 2010-2014. He was also a Chairman of the EU Council’s ‘Telecommunications and Information Society’ Working Group during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the second half of 2013.
Prior to this role, he served at the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania, where he was a Chief Policy Expert at the ICT Policy department in 2009-2010.
Earlier in his career, Tomas held advisory and consultancy positions in the private IT and trade business sector companies.
Tomas received a Masters of Leadership with an International Relations concentration from Boston University, Mass. (US), a Masters of Enterprise Information systems from University of Westminster, London (UK) and a Bachelors of Informatics from the Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania.