EU calls for private money to build high speed networks

The European Union’s (EU) call for greater private investment in building high-speed, fiber-based networks across the continent has been broadly welcomed within the industry. The call came from Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner responsible for the EU’s Digital Agenda, who singled out the continents’ cable TV operators as important players in attracting such investment and acting as a counterweight to large telcos, which are also building out fiber.

Kroes argued during an interview with Cable Europe’s Cable News magazine that cable companies had a major role to play attracting investment because they were best placed in the short term to deliver 100Mb/s access speeds without requiring fiber to go all the way to the home. In turn, this would drive telcos to seek investment for their fiber build-out.

These comments were seized upon by Cable Europe, the body responsible for European versions of standards defined by Cable Labs, which promised that its members would compete strongly with telcos and push hard to attract investment. Meanwhile, the EU, for its part, has promised to reduce barriers to investment through its regulatory framework for e-communications, revised by the Commission in 2009 and then complemented by the 2010 Recommendation on Regulated Access to Next Generation Access Networks.

This helped make the EU into the world’s largest single broadband market, according to Kroes, and now the same strategy must be repeated for superfast networks providing access at speeds of 100Mb/s or more. The Commission (the EU’s governing body) is working with the European Investment Bank to develop innovative financial incentives to support broadband investment, Kroes said.v