The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee has agreed on a Gigabit Infrastructure Act (GIA) compromise text aimed at achieving high connectivity for all Europeans by 2030. The Parliament is pushing for EU harmonised rules for telecoms, the abolition of extra fees for intra-EU calls, and the adoption of the principle of administrative tacit approval. The European Parliament is set to vote on the text on 19 September.
The text, if approved, will become the basis for interinstitutional negotiations. The Council of Ministers still needs to finalize discussions on their first compromise text. The Parliament’s rapporteur on the text, Alin Mituța, stated that the future development of society and the economy relies heavily on high-capacity networks.
The Parliament decided that the 2014 Broadband Coast Reductive Directive did not adequately support telecom roll-out and chose to replace it with a regulation to harmonise EU rules. The suggestion to abolish extra fees for intra-EU calls received broad support from EU lawmakers.
The text also includes the principle of administrative tacit approval. If a regulatory authority does not respond to a request for permit granting within two months, it will be considered as approval. Member states for which this provision is unconstitutional have been given a carve-out.
The aim of the regulation is to encourage public-private partnerships to provide high-capacity connectivity across Europe. In areas with low business incentives, telecom operators will not be allowed to deploy parallel networks if local authorities choose to deploy their network with public funding. Instead, operators can connect to the public infrastructure and pay a fee.
The text also includes provisions for tower companies, stating that independent tower companies should offer physical access to more than one telecom operator to be excluded from the regulation. Access to physical infrastructure or land must be provided at a fair and reasonable price.
The compromise text also includes provisions for national fully digitalised Single Information Points, where telecom operators can access minimum information on physical infrastructure. The European Commission will set guidelines for fair and reasonable prices for access to physical infrastructure in coordination with stakeholders.
The text keeps the term “fibre” instead of replacing it with a technologically-neutral term. It also includes provisions for satellite connectivity, such as the use of satellite backhauling in digital high-speed connectivity.