Global scenario



The European Electronic Communications Code sets EU-wide rules and objectives on how the telecom industry should be regulated. It applies to network and service providers and defines how they can be regulated nationally. It also brings the rules up to date, to take account of technological developments and safeguard consumers’ choice.

The Code aims to create a stable regulatory environment which reduces divergences between regulatory practices across the EU. It substantially reduces regulation where rival operators co-invest in very high-capacity networks and makes it easier for smaller players to join investment projects, thanks to the pooling of costs and the overcoming of scale barriers, amongst others. New rules make the investment case more predictable for ‘first movers’ who take the risk to invest in those networks in less profitable areas, such as rural ones. With the new Code, it is not only about competition for access to networks anymore, but also competition for investment in these networks.

The Code also aims to reduce divergences between regulatory practices across the EU in the area of radio spectrum. It proposes long licence durations, coupled with more stringent requirements to use the spectrum effectively and efficiently, while also coordinating basic parameters such as the timing of assignments to ensure timely release of spectrum to the EU market and more converged spectrum policies across the EU. The Commission also proposes to reinforce the role of national regulators, and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications to ensure consistent and predictable application of the rules throughout the Digital Single Market, limiting current fragmentation and inconsistencies. The investments triggered by the new framework could boost the EU’s GDP by an additional €910 billion and create 1.3 million new jobs by 2025, according to Commission forecasts.

WiFi4EU for communities

Another key initiative of the Commission’s connectivity package, WiFi4EU, aims at helping European communities offer free Wi-Fi access points to any citizen. The Commission proposes to invest €120 million to give all interested local authorities the possibility of offering free Wi-Fi connections to their citizens in and around public buildings, health centres, parks or public squares.
The 5G Action Plan

In addition to the Code, the Commission also presented a 5G Action Plan, which foresees a common EU calendar for a coordinated 5G commercial launch in 2020. This is alongside joint work with Member States and industry stakeholders to identify and allocate spectrum bands for 5G, organise pan- European 5G trials as of 2018, promote common global 5G standards and encourage the adoption of national 5G deployment roadmaps across all EU Member States.

The Commission and investors in the telecoms also consider providing venture capital to startups developing 5G solutions for innovative applications and services across industrial sectors. This would take the form of a specialised venture-financing facility helping them to bring new services to market, such as in the area of automated driving, goods delivered by drones, or virtual reality for specific professional collaboration.



In 2015, some 71% of European households had access to a fast fixed internet connection with download speeds of at least 30 Mbps. But only 28% of those were in rural areas. For 4G mobile coverage, the EU average is 86%, but in rural areas only 36%. This is obviously not enough to address the growing need for speed, quality and reliability of the infrastructure necessary for the Digital Single Market to become real. The connectivity initiatives, presented along with new EU copyright rules, are part of the EU strategy to create a Digital Single Market, which consists of 16 distinct initiatives.

The Commission’s proposals will need to be first endorsed by the European Parliament and the European Council, so that they can become legislation and implemented EU-wide. Once EU legislation has been adopted, the Commission ensures that it is correctly applied by each EU member country.

Broadband targets for 2025
In order to address future broadband needs, the Commission proposes that by 2025 there should be download/upload speeds of 1 Gbps for all schools, transport hubs and main providers of public services, as well as digitally intensive enterprises. In addition, it aims at download speeds of at least 100 Mbps, which can be upgraded to 1 Gbps for all European households, rural or urban. 5G wireless broadband coverage for all urban areas, as well as major roads and railways, is also envisaged. The plan also said that at least one major city in each EU Member State should have 5G by 2020. These objectives can only be achieved with massive investment, estimated at €500 billion over the coming decade. The money will largely have to come from private sources, even if indidcators suggest that under current investment trends there is likely to be a €155 billion shortfall. In order to address this investment challenge, the Commission proposed a European Electronic Communications Code, which is a modernisation of the current EU telecoms rules, which were last updated in 2009.
Building Gigabit Britain
The UK’s Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA), which represents alternative network ISPs and digital infrastructure builders – the Altnets – has published its Building Gigabit Britain report. The document, created in consultation with members including national players Sky and Vodafone, alongside CityFibre, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Relish, ITS, Warwicknet and others, outlines a number of Government measures required to facilitate the widescale deployment of pure fibre or ‘Fibreto- the-Premises’ (FTTP).

The UK currently has the lowest FTTP deployment in the OECD, with around 2% coverage, INCA said in a statement. Building Gigabit Britain outlines how this puts the country at an inflection point, with legacy copper-based networks increasingly unable to cope with the exponential growth in data.

The report offers six recommendations of specific measures the UK Government should take: a clear and achievable ‘Gigabit Britain’ strategy; remove financial barriers to FTTP roll-out; create a regulatory environment which encourages competition; review advertising guidelines to achieve greater clarity on the differences between fibre and a hybrid copper solution.
Founding the 5G infrastructure in the US

The US Federal Communications Commission is taking a crucial step to facilitate the deployment of infrastructure that will ensure the installation of next-generation wireless services, or 5G. Building on previous infrastructure reforms, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau signed an agreement to eliminate historic preservation reviews for small facility deployments across the US that do not adversely impact historic sites and locations. The agreement was signed with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and removes regulatory burdens for infrastructure deployments that would have little or no physical impact on their respective sites. This change will make it much easier, quicker and cheaper to deploy the facilities on which 5G is being built – like distributed antenna systems, small cells and future technologies that haven’t yet left the drawing board.

According to recent reports from the industry, wireless data consumption has grown 732% since 2010. And Cisco forecasts that global mobile data traffic will increase elevenfold between 2013 and 2018. 5G build-out will require increasing spectrum availability, ensuring backhaul connectivity, and facilitating infrastructure deployment. The agreement addresses infrastructure deployment, enabling more efficient installation of distributed antennae systems, also known as DAS, and small cells.