Summary:

The European Parliament’s industry committee has approved a draft law that will make the sharing of infrastructure such a sewage and gas pipes and drainage systems a lot easier — thereby making broadband rollouts a lot cheaper.

Fiber Optic Cables
photo: Corbis

Broadband rollouts in parts of Europe are likely to get substantially cheaper and easier, after a committee of the European Parliament backed plans to encourage access to existing infrastructure.

When you’re laying fiber in the ground, it’s a bit of a no-brainer to do it in ducts that already exist – sewage pipes and drainage systems, for example – particularly as most of the cost of a rollout lies in civil works.

Countries such as the UK and France already promote this kind of infrastructure-sharing, but now the same idea seems set to spread across the EU. On Thursday, the European Parliament’s industry committee said it had approved a draft law that would give broadband firms the right to “access ‘promptly’, via a single information point, at least information on the location, route, size, type and current use, name of owner and a contact point for existing infrastructure.”

They will also be able to access better information about upcoming civil works, and information will only be denied if “security or fundamental public or individual interests are at risk.”

The law will also mandate the inclusion of “in-house infrastructure ready for broadband connection” in any newly-constructed public buildings, including in social housing projects, and in any buildings being renovated in a significant way. The plan even includes a voluntary “broadband-ready” label that buildings and apartments will be able to show off if they offer access to high-speed broadband.

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