EU Council Advances Digital Agenda with Gigabit Infrastructure Act

Andrea Calvello
Credit: spanish-presidency.consilium.europa.eu

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – The European Council introduces the Gigabit Infrastructure Act to streamline high-speed network deployment, replacing the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive. It aims to cut costs, boost connectivity, and safeguard consumer interests.

To provide faster deployment of digital network infrastructure across Europe, the European Council assumed the Gigabit Infrastructure Act, which will supersede the 2014 Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (BCRD). 

How Will the Gigabit Infrastructure Act Impact Connectivity Goals?

According to the Press of Council, The new law seeks to simplify and rev the roll-out of high-speed networks, such as fibre and 5G, with a view to acquiring Europe’s connectivity goals and targets set out in the digital compass for this decade.

“The adoption of the gigabit infrastructure act reflects our commitment to tackle administrative burden and boost the roll-out of high-speed networks. This will allow our citizens to surf faster and have a better digital experience using fibre or 5G.” Petra De Sutter, Belgian deputy prime and minister of public administration, public enterprises, telecommunication, and postal services, expressed. 

Can Gigabit Infrastructure Act Cut Costs and Boost Connectivity?

The new regulation also strives to lower the unnecessarily high costs of the deployment of high-capacity networks partially pushed by permit-granting procedures. The latter will be facilitated through a mandatory conciliation mechanism between public sector bodies and telecom operators.  The latest legislation will further deliver more transparency and secure efficient planning for operators of public electronic communications networks.

To achieve more reasonable access to information society services by the public and enterprises, the Gigabit Infrastructure Act also handles deployment and access to in-building physical infrastructure

Finally, given that the current retail price cap for regulated intra-EU communications will end on 14 May 2024, the present caps of €0,19 per minute for calls and €0,06 per SMS message are unfolded until 30 June 2032 to ensure protection, particularly for vulnerable consumers. 

In the Next steps, the text will be issued in the EU’s Official Journal in the coming days and enter into force three days after this publication. The latest law will apply 18 months after it enters into force with some thorough provisions applying at a later stage. 

How Will Gigabit Infrastructure Act Shape Europe’s Digital Landscape?

The digital targets on which the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (BCRD) was established have either been reached or become outdated since 2014. Other factors have made its modification necessary as well. Low returns on equity and high investment expenses that prevail in the telecom industry have begun to derail the progress to achieve the 2030 digital targets of the digital decade policy programme with an investment interval of around €65 billion annually.

The Commission (Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market) presented the proposal for the gigabit infrastructure act in February 2023. Alin Mituta (Renew Europe / RO) was the European Parliament’s rapporteur on this file and a provisional agreement between the co-legislators was reached on 6 February 2024.

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Andrea Calvello is a Journalist at Brussels Morning News. He is covering European Politics, European Parliament, European Council, European Commission and Europe News. He is a highly accomplished journalist and digital specialist with a wealth of experience in the media industry. He holds a Master's degree in Business Administration with a focus on marketing and digital transformation, as well as an Executive Master in Human Resources Management, Development, and Administration. Additionally, he has completed a specialization course in advertising communication, marketing, and Made in Italy communication and digital technologies. Calvello is also a member of the National Order of Journalists and has had a successful career as a TV journalist, bringing his expertise in marketing and digital communication to the world of television broadcasting. His diverse skill set and passion for innovation have set him apart as a dynamic and influential figure in the field of media and communications.