The European Commission wants all households in Europe to have access to internet download speeds of at least 100Mb/s by 2025, according to a leaked document obtained by European news website EurActiv.com.
European member states will be expected to review and update their national broadband policies in line with the new objectives, and to make sure that public funds are available, where necessary, to help achieve them, according to the draft document.
Once finalised, the communication from the Commission, called ‘Towards Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society’, is expected to be published on 21 September alongside legislative proposals to overhaul current EU telecoms law, EurActive reports.
The Digital Agenda for Europe, in 2010, defined objectives for connectivity by 2020, introducing targets of universal access to download speeds of 30Mb/s with more than half of users subscribing to speeds at 100Mb/s or beyond. These targets have become an important reference point for public policy and research to improve broadband technologies.
These targets are yet to be reached, however, with 71 per cent of homes across Europe having access to 30Mb/s speeds by June 2015, and only 49 per cent of households covered by networks at speeds of 100Mb/s or better – leading the Commission to speculate that the adoption target will be missed.
Nevertheless, the Commission says the targets remain valid and should be extended, given the expected evolution of end user broadband needs, and the long investment horizon for telecom infrastructure projects, which typically last between five and 10 years.
Indeed, the report points out that there has been a sharp increase in take-up of 100Mb/s services, which is most pronounced in countries that already have highest adoption of 100Mb/s broadband. Consumers and businesses are more likely to purchase faster broadband services when their neighbours do, and where applications exist to exploit those higher speeds.
Meanwhile, the report says that schools, hospitals, research centres and public institutions will require gigabit connectivity in the same time frame – as they are the socio-economic drivers for growth, innovation and social cohesion in Europe.
It is estimated that a further €155 million of investment will be required to meet the new 2025 connectivity objectives, over and above that required to meet existing Digital Agenda targets.
Though the draft document does not promote one technology over any another – as you would expect from the technologically neutral EU – it does note that continuous reliance on copper telecoms networks is ‘retarding developments necessary for the digitalisation of European industry’. Investments made in digital infrastructure today should represent a stepping stone towards achieving policy objectives for 2025, the report advises.