Connectivity Toolbox: Member States agree on best practices to boost timely deployment of 5G and fibre networks

EU Member States have agreed on a Union-wide Connectivity Toolbox, a report of best practices that they consider most efficient in rolling out fixed and mobile very high-capacity networks, including 5G. These include, for example, permit exemptions for certain civil works; a single online portal to make all necessary information on permits, civil works and infrastructure available; financial incentives in spectrum auctions for investments in networks; and measures that support wireless connectivity to enable the use of disruptive technologies and intelligent machinery in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. These best practices will help Member States to ensure timely and investment-friendly access to 5G spectrum for mobile operators and other users of spectrum, including for cross-border industrial applications, for example in transport, energy, healthcare, or agriculture. They will also help operators to reduce the cost of gigabit broadband deployment. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal market, said: “In the Digital Decade all Europeans should benefit from fast and secure connections. We must start today turning this ambition into a reality. The Connectivity Toolbox is the result of Member States’ cooperation and commitment to remove obstacles and boost the deployment of very fast networks.” Today’s Connectivity Toolbox follows up on the Commission’s Recommendation in September 2020 that called Member States to boost investment in very high-capacity broadband connectivity infrastructure, including 5G, which is the most fundamental block of the digital transformation and an essential pillar of the recovery. Earlier this month the Commission presented a Communication on Europe’s Digital Decade that sets out the aim to connect all European households with gigabit speeds and to ensure 5G coverage for all populated areas in the EU as well as major transport routes. The Connectivity Toolbox builds upon the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive, which is currently under review, and on the European Electronic Communications Code. As a next step, Member States should share with the Commission by 30 April 2021 their individual roadmaps to implement the Toolbox. More information is available here