New EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act


New EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act

New act is instrumental to achieving Digital Decade connectivity target: ensuring EU-wide access to Gb connectivity and fast mobile data by 2030.

New EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act promotes Gigabit network installation

The new EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act (GIA) has been introduced in response to the growing need for faster, reliable, data-intensive connectivity. This act updates rules to ensure faster, cheaper, and simpler rollout of Gigabit networks, addressing the main hurdles such as costly and complex procedures for network deployment. Political agreement was reached in February 2024 and the GIA will soon become law.

There are several drivers for the introduction of GIA. For one thing, it helps ensure all households and businesses in the EU have access to gigabit internet speeds supporting the broader EU vision of a highly connected society where everyone can participate in the digital economy. Enhancing the competitiveness of European businesses by providing them with the infrastructure necessary to innovate and scale up, and by attracting investments in digital sectors. Furthermore, development of smart innovative services for citizens across the EU depends on availability of fast, reliable, data-intense connections.

However, diverse regulatory environments across EU member states can complicate the deployment process. Issues such as rights of way, permits for digging, and access to existing infrastructure like utility poles or ducts can vary widely, leading to delays and increased costs. In some regions, existing telecom providers may have little incentive to upgrade infrastructure due to a lack of competition. The cost of laying fiber, especially in rural or remote areas, can be prohibitive without financial incentives or public-private partnerships. Upgrading from older technologies to fiber may also require significant changes in existing network infrastructure.

Effective coordination is required among various stakeholders, including local and national governments, telecom operators, utility companies, and property owners, to ensure smooth deployment. Through a number of mechanisms, the GIA could significantly drive fibre broadband rollout across Europe. By establishing a harmonized regulatory framework, the act can provide clarity and certainty for telecom operators, investors, and other stakeholders. It could include provisions for financial support, subsidies, or incentives to encourage fibre network deployment, especially in underserved or rural areas.

By promoting shared use of existing infrastructure (such as ducts, poles, and dark fibre), and simplifying and harmonizing procedures for obtaining permits, the GIA could lower costs and barriers to entry for new market participants and significantly speed up deployment. By establishing a framework for monitoring and reporting on the progress of fibre rollout, the act can help identify gaps and bottlenecks in deployment. The new act also seeks to reduce networks’ environmental footprint by promoting environmentally efficient technologies such as fibre and 5G. Re-use of existing physical infrastructure and greater coordination of civil works will also contribute to lower overall environmental impact of deploying networks.

The GIA replaces the 2014 Broadband Cost Reduction Directive. A 2018 report found that this Directive was not being applied consistently across the EU. Therefore, the Commission proposed to replace it with the Gigabit Infrastructure Act. Political agreement was reached in February 2024 and the GIA will soon become law. It is also instrumental to achieving the 2030 Digital Decade target on connectivity: ensuring cross-EU access to fast Gigabit connectivity and fast mobile data by 2030. The EU Digital Decade initiative is centered around transforming the EU into a more digitally empowered economy and society by 2030. An important goal is to ensure a significant portion of adults have basic digital skills, and an increased number of ICT specialists are available in the workforce, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

Also high on the agenda are enhancing the provision of digital public services, including e-government services, with an emphasis on privacy, security, and accessibility for all citizens, as well as encouraging digital transformation of businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to boost their competitiveness. The Commission has also adopted the ‘Recommendation on the regulatory promotion of Gigabit connectivity’. This aims to promote the internal market for electronic communications networks and services and complements other sources of guidance on the European Electronic Communications Code.


Find out more about the Gigabit Infrastructure Act