After ACTA let's also have a look at the sources of the internet

The European Parliament is expected to vote in January next year on a key file for the future of our ICT economy: the shaping of its future infrastructure. Technically it is a "proposal for a regulation on the guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks" . Translation: the text will impose a framework that will "orientate" the way EU public money will be spent for the next telecommunication infrastructures during 2013-2020. The target proposed by the European Commission is to reach, by 2020, 100% of EU households at a connexion speed of 30 Mbps or above, and 50 % of EU households at 100 Mbps or above. This target comes from the European Digital Agenda  previously set by the European Commission.

The requirement of an efficient and universal internet network for our citizens on a wide and disparate EU territory in terms of covering, the substantial investments both from the EU, 9.2 Billion €, and private actors make this file of particular importance.

That is why we decided to push, together with other MEPs, for the European Parliament to organise at the end of last month a workshop on the file called ''Building a European energy infrastructure - selecting and implementing projects of common interest' to see and hear experts discussing the relevance of the dossier. To see the power points of the speakers, see here.  

How did the discussion go? Well, there is a rather normal consensus between EU institutions and stakeholders to allocate the EU funding and financial support towards areas where private investments alone don't go because of lack of investment return, i.e. due to poorly dense population in what we call remote or "white" areas. The questions on how we allocate the EU public money and financial support and for what kind of network are more subject to debate.

The European Commission, some MEPs and market analysists such as analysys mason  or wik consult  invited at the workshop give main importance to the principle of  'technological neutrality' to reach the target, principle under which the applicants for EU support (businesses or public bodies) are able to choose whatever 'technology' to reach the target: wireless including satellites, or Fibre to the... FTTx, or copper or mix technologies.

We understand that for each new infrastructure every technology should be considered, but we are less sure about the central relevancy of such principle: if you are really ambitious and want to get the best possible infrastructure at a good price, and if you see that this is financially reasonable to have such ambition for your geographical area, maybe one technology would be more used than the others and you would have to make a kind of choice. Some of the defendant of technological neutrality among the experts at the workshop pointed out that optical fibre and especially fibre to the home FTTH is very or extremely costly and that for cost efficiency consideration it couldn't be too much generalised, and that it should be complemented by wireless or mix technologies.

Other experts like from Cisco, Netnod in Sweden or SIEEA in France counterbalanced somehow this approach by showing that if the costs of heavy FTTH infrastructures are reduced by the use of existing infrastructures, shared between operators or even publically managed, the general costs can be reduced thanks to a healthy and income-generating competition in the exploitation of these infrastructures, for the benefit of the end-user that can pay a reasonable connexion price for a top 100 Mbps or above connexion speed. A possible future congestion of the wireless market was also hinted at.

In the coming months we will need to be vigilant to orientate and properly allocate EU support for projects that REALLY bring excellence at still affordable price and that invest in infrastructure technologies where private investments are REALLY not keen to go alone. Too be continued after the summer in the European Parliament...

2 kommentarer

Dear Martin,

good point on the new tech: there is a provision on the legislative file that foresees that the European Commission is allowed to modify the specifications of the projects subject to EU public support, or add new projects subject to EU support in particular circumstances, including the one where new technologies appear and should be taken into account. Several MEPs from different political groups, including Amelia, are vigilant to make sure the Commisison does not use this power unproperly, i.e. in ways that could be interpreted as not justified. The European Parliament and the Council could object to this if they want to. However this provision, if properly applied, gives room for being able to react quickly to technology evolutions in a manner that optimise the cost-benefits ratio.
On the decentralisation of information exchange, completly agree, it has an amazing potential for democracy, today two sided 100 Mbps, P2P can substantially contribute to enabling this decentralisation.

Very interesting although I think many are underestimating both the future needs for speed as well as what new tech yet unknown will provide.

No doubt the speed will be better and reach to more BUT that is not the important thing. The important thing is That it MUST be more and more DECENTRALISED. If you think about it, you will realize that decentralization of information exchange will be one of the most peace keeping actions you can encourage. People shall always be encouraged to freely speak and exchange information. It will become extremely difficult to crush the resistance in times of was and occupation and in case of natural disasters, including terror attacks, communication will still work well.


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