The Parliament’s Industry Committee has adopted its position on the “Gigabit infrastructure Act”, which would reduce red tape with simpler and clearer procedures for granting infrastructure permits, tackle disparities among EU member states, and urban and rural areas, as well as end fees for intra-EU calls and SMS.
The legislation responds to disparities in digital access and literacy, with rural and remote areas often lagging behind urban centres, who are the first to benefit from the latest technological advancements. The European Infrastructure Act would address the imbalance, ensuring that every European citizen, regardless of their location, can access and benefit from digital services. It also seeks to stimulate investments in digital infrastructure, foster economic growth and ensure that European businesses remain at the forefront of global innovation.
“The objective of this act is to ensure that, by 2030, all EU households should have access to fixed gigabit networks and all populated areas, including rural areas, have 5G coverage so no one is left behind,” said lead MEP Alin Mituta.
The Act would simplify, reduce the cost, and expedite administrative procedures for granting permits, reduce bureaucratic hurdles for operators and national administrations, thereby making the deployment process smoother and faster. In their amendments, MEPs reduce the time that national authorities have to take a decision on whether to grant a permit from four to two months.
Measures would facilitate access to physical infrastructure such as buildings, rooftops, facades and street furniture. They would also encourage existing physical infrastructures, such as ducts, poles, masts, antenna installations, towers, and other supporting constructions to be shared, to minimise costly civil engineering works and accelerate the roll out high-speed networks.
The legislation would also introduce measures to coordinate civil works carried out by network operators or public authorities. Specific provisions also aim to incentivise and speed up the extension of coverage to rural, remote and scarcely populated areas. In order to achieve this, in very limited situations, access obligations would be expanded to commercial buildings in areas with poor coverage and in those where no public buildings are available to host infrastructure.
MEPs also introduced provisions for the abolition of fees for end-users for intra-EU calls and SMS. To avoid unnecessary excessive prices, MEPs believe legislation should be adopted to regulate intra-EU calls before the current provisions expire in May 2024.
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