Help us roll out high-speed Internet more cheaply says EU

European Commission opens consultation on the cost of next generation networks

European lawmakers have asked for help and advice on how to roll out high-speed Internet across the E.U. more cheaply.

The European Commission on Friday launched a public consultation, seeking opinions on how to cut down the cost of setting up so-called next generation networks. This infrastructure will be needed to meet the Commission's 2020 target of Internet speeds of 30M bps (bits per second) for all connections, with at least 50 percent of households subscribing to Internet services with speeds above 100M bps.

Because up to 80 percent of the total cost of broadband investment is related to civil infrastructure work, the Commission wants to explore how to reduce the cost of digging up roads to lay down fiber. A lack of coordination between civil engineering projects and insufficient re-use of existing infrastructure is pushing up the expense and the Commission believes better management and practices could cut investment costs by a quarter.

The 23-point questionnaire includes questions about permits, transparency and "the bottlenecks (practical, administrative, technical or legal) that operators wishing to deploy high-speed communication networks are confronted with."

Interested parties have until July 20 to submit their opinions. For every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration the economy grows by 1 percent to 1.5 percent according to the Commission figures.

"We need practical ideas on how to cut costs and how to make it easier to access, re-use and share this infrastructure. There is nothing more annoying for citizens than road-digging, and nothing more annoying to businesses than pointless red tape," said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a statement.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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