New EU rules designed to increase investment and competition in the rollout of superfast broadband services have received the backing of the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC).
The organisation, which which represents the continent's national telecoms regulators, including Ofcom, has placed its preliminary backing behind the proposals, which are intended to support the European Digital Agenda.
This aims to make superfast broadband speeds of 30Mb or above available to 100 per cent of the EU by 2020, but a number of hurdles must be overcome before this is made possible.
The EU’s Draft Commission Recommendation calls for consistent non-discrimination obligations and costing methodologies “to promote competition and enhance the broadband investment environment”.
This effectively means ensuring that certain broadband providers do not gain an unfair market share, though it stops short of imposing sanctions on these suppliers.
Some fear that the approach still offers too much leniency and could enable incumbents to retain too much control over the Next Generation Access (NGA) market, but BEREC has nevertheless described the proposal as “positive” and offered its initial support.
“Europe’s regulators share the Commission’s determination to ensure a transparent, predictable and stable regulatory environment in support of the rollout of NGA networks,” a statement from BEREC said.
According to Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, creating legal predictability will be the “key” to boosting competition, innovation and investments in high-speed broadband across the continent, as well as stimulating growth in economies and jobs markets.
“Let us not forget that high-speed internet represents the basis for Europe’s competitiveness in today’s and, even more so, in tomorrow’s world,” she explained.
“It is ‘digital oxygen’ to boost growth and jobs, and the backbone for more efficient businesses both small and large and for more efficient and better public services.”
The draft recommendations are set to be finalised in the months ahead, with adoption expected to occur in the first half of the year.