ANALYSIS & OPINION

EC fibre policy lacks focus, says FTTH Council Europe

The European Commission has missed an opportunity to have a better-focused fibre policy in its Digital Single Market proposal by continuing to ignore the key issues, according to the FTTH Council Europe.

The council says there is too little FTTH investment, and that the proposal fails to set out a vision of how the industry can accelerate investments for the benefit of the broader economy.

Hartwig Tauber, director general, said: 'The Commission has identified the slow deployment of LTE and has tried to identify areas to foster and speed up next generation wireless; the FTTH Council would have expected that fibre should have got a similar policy focus. A lack of LTE deployment may be also related to a lack of supporting fibre investments but the Commission refuses to prioritise fibre to the home investments on the grounds of technological neutrality.

'The result is that regulatory policies effectively promote copper upgrades that can’t support the capacity requirements of users, fixed or mobile, into the future. LTE needs fibre very deep in the network to provide backhaul, in urban areas that means fibre to the home or at least fibre to the building. As noted by a recent OECD report, wireless development needs a corresponding wireline development so the overall vision must be more coherent.'

The FTTH Council Europe has estimated that investments in the region of €200 billion would be needed to deliver FTTH across the whole of the European Union and simultaneously meet the Digital Agenda targets, including the requirement that half of households should have ultrafast broadband subscriptions (over 100 Mbps). The council has also published a position paper, noting that new investments from outside the telecom sector will need to be encouraged and facilitated by a major regulatory reform if Europe is to lead in network deployment and high-speed service delivery.

Tauber concluded: ‘We need a greater emphasis on future-proof fibre networks and we need to facilitate new models of financing. I believe the failure to have a proper public consultation may have led to some big policy misses.’

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