The European Commission's proposes reshaping the existing framework into an 'Electronic Communications Code'

The European Commission begins an ambitious project to adapt telecoms infrastructure to the "Gigabit society"

On 14 September 2016, the European Commission published its legislative proposals for reforming the Telecoms Package, a 5G action plan and a communication in which it details its ambitions for the "Gigabit society". This work is part of the strategy to achieve a Digital Single Market that began back in May 2015. It follows through on a public consultation the European Commission held in late 2015 to which Arcep and the European Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) contributed.

The Commission's targets for improving connectivity between now and 2025 include: providing access to connections of at least 100Mb/s to every household in Europe, and connections of at least 1 Gb/s for key locations such as businesses and schools, in addition to 5G rollouts in urban areas and along all major terrestrial transport paths.

To achieve these objectives, the Commission's proposals - notably in terms of access regulation and radio spectrum management - aim to adapt existing regulations to create greater incentives to invest and deploy network infrastructure across Europe, leveraging market competition and, if necessary, relying on additional public financing.

The review that is now getting underway must also be an opportunity for an overall reshaping of the framework into an "Electronic Communications Code," to adapt existing regulations to changes in the digital environment and to how the networks are being used. This will include guaranteeing the future of the universal service, and ensuring that over-the-top services which, from the user's standpoint, are equivalent to telecom services (calling, messaging, etc.) are subject to equivalent rules.

Lastly, the Commission plans on reforming the institutional framework to achieve greater regulatory harmonisation across Europe, notably by strengthening the responsibilities assigned to BEREC.

These proposed reforms will now be examined in detail by the European Parliament and Council. The Commission hopes to see these new regulations adopted before the end of 2017, and transposed into EU Member States before 2020.

Arcep will be involved in the debate that is kicking off today, not least in its capacity of BEREC Chair in 2017. The Authority will also provide its expertise to the French Government, to help French authorities prepare their positions.

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