Opinion factsheet

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    Review of the telecom package

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    : CDR 5113/2016
    : VÕRKLAEV, Mart
    : ALDE (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)
    : SEDEC
    : Adopted
    : 08/02/2017
    To support internet connectivity of high quality based on very high-speed broadband services, financial assistance within the Union to contribute to the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion.
    To share the Commission's view that all urban areas and the most important land transport routes should have full 5G coverage; supports the interim target whereby a 5G connection should be available as a commercial service in at least one major city in each Member State by 2020.
    To endorse the new voucher scheme for free Wi-Fi connections and the launch of the Broadband fund with the EIB and the aim of increasing future financial support post-2020.
    To welcome the Commission's proposal to set up – by the end of 2016 and in cooperation with the Committee of the Regions – a participatory broadband platform to ensure that public and private bodies cooperate and firmly commit to investing in the development of the broadband network and to taking further steps to implement national plans for developing the broadband network; is open to comprehensive and constructive cooperation in setting up the platform
    This opinion refers, among other things, to the broadband connectivity in all EU regions.
    The Communication on "Connectivity for a European Gigabit society - Towards a European Gigabit Society", includes an accompanying measure to support Internet connectivity and refers to the setting up of a Participatory Broadband Platform ("by the end of 2016 a participatory broadband platform to ensure a high level of engagement and cooperation between relevant public and private entities for broadband investment and progress in implementing national broadband plans.").
    The first meeting of the platform is being organized take place in October 2017.
    The CoR has reiterated in many opinions, in a recent CoR study and in the resolution to the contribution to the Commission's 2017 work programme, the claim that all areas should have access to high-speed broadband connections to avoid a further digital divide particularly in rural and sparsely populated areas.
    THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

    - considers that securing basic access to broadband is a general interest objective and its recognition as a universal service must go hand in hand with the full recognition of universal service obligations; this is of paramount importance in areas where the market does not deliver and where public investment is crucial;

    - considers that the main effect of the Broadband Platform should be to contribute to a faster, better and more sustainable deployment of high-speed broadband in rural and sparsely populated areas in the EU, because of their serious structural, economic and social problems and thus, contribute to reducing the digital divide in those areas;

    - shares the Commission's view that all urban areas and the most important land transport routes should have full 5G coverage; supports the interim target whereby a 5G connection should be available as a commercial service in at least one major city in each Member State by 2020. In order to avoid piecemeal solutions, the European Commission must complete the standardisation that is still required for this new wireless technology as quickly as possible. There are other reasons why aiming to introduce this by 2020 is very ambitious: the current 4G networks, constructed only recently, have the potential to increase their speed to well over 1 000 Mbit/s, and telecommunication companies have invested significant sums in developing these networks, meaning that they may not be particularly receptive to another technology switchover if the right framework conditions are not in place;

    - endorses the new voucher scheme for free Wi-Fi connections, the launch of the Broadband fund with the EIB and the aim of increasing future financial support post-2020, and notes that this is a step in the right direction;
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