Consultation - New Regulations to require Infrastructure Sharing
EU Member States have certain targets to achieve by 2020.
EU Member States have certain targets to achieve by 2020, namely:
- Virtually all European homes having access to a minimum level of service of 2Mbps;
- Fast Broadband coverage at 30Mbps or more for 100% of EU Citizens; and
- Ultrafast Broadband subscriptions above 100mpbs for 50% of EU Citizens
Around 500 billion Euros will need to be allocated to update networks, including communication, electricity and gas distribution and transmission, storage, and smart grids.
It is generally recognised that to reduce this cost to the EU Member States, Utilities and Communication Providers need to share infrastructure (i.e. optic fibre networks etc.). Additionally, up to 30% cost reduction could be achieved by the re-use of existing ducts, including those of alternative infrastructure owned by other utilities (e.g. water, energy, railways).
Whilst the idea of infrastructure sharing between utilities within the UK has been canvassed since the 1990s as a way of reducing roll-out costs, little real progress has been made to date. However, the thrust of regulation is clearly moving towards encouraging this type of cooperation between network operators; namely:
- Ofcom's recent decision in relation to BT's ducts and poles;
- UK Government encouragement on a need for dialogue on infrastructure-sharing between communication providers and utility companies;
- The Government considering steps to reduce regulatory barriers; and
- The Government’s objective of easing deployment and wayleaves.
More significantly, in a recent consultation, the EU Commission put forward a number of key areas that it considered to be areas where regulation could assist in reducing costs, namely:
1. Making better use of existing infrastructure, including across utilities and communication providers, for example:
- Increasing access to existing passive infrastructure of telecom operators;
- Providing access to infrastructures of utility companies in other sectors; and
- Raising transparency on existing passive infrastructures (duct mapping).
2. Enhancing transparency and coordination of civil engineering works, for example:
- Enabling operators to benefit from clear announcements of the planned civil engineering works ; and
- Systematically offering possibilities to lay new ducts or other infrastructure when public works are undertaken.
3. Handling requests to rollout networks in a more efficient and transparent way, for example:
- Raising awareness and coordination among authorities involved in permit granting;
- Creating a centralised information access point concerning permits; and
- Creating a one-stop-shop for all the necessary permits.
4. Ensuring readiness for NGA access buildings, for example:
- Providing guidance to owners and property developers for buildings “ready for NGA access”; and
- Ensuring open access to terminating segments of next generation networks, including in-house equipment.
These proposed new regulations may have an impact upon the ability of a utility / communication provider to extract a new revenue stream from its infrastructure, the costs and the operations of both communication providers and utilities. They could also present a challenge on day to day operations.
Taylor Wessing is in a unique position as it has been appointed on the EU Expert Task Force for both Next Generation Networks and Smart Grids. The Task Force is considering and drafting the new regulations.
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"EU Member States have certain targets regarding the provision of broadband which they must reach by 2020. Tracey Sheehan & Rebbeca Clarke look at what progress is being made and the regulations that are needed to ensure the targets are met."
"These proposed new regulations may have an impact upon the ability of a utility / communication provider to extract a new revenue stream from its infrastructure, the costs and the operations of both communication providers and utilities."