European Electronic Communications Code [EECC]
In 2010, the Digital Agenda for Europe defined objectives for connectivity by 2020: universal availability at 30 Mbps, to ensure territorial cohesion, and subscriptions at 100 Mbps by at least 50% of European households, to anticipate future competitiveness needs.
By mid-2015, fixed networks offering at least 30 Mbps were available to 71% of homes across the EU, up from 48% in 20117. Almost half of EU homes were covered by networks
capable of providing downlink speeds at 100 Mbps. Subscriptions at 100 Mbps+ are growing sharply, from a low base: 11% of all homes had such subscriptions by mid-2015. The growth trend is more pronounced in Member States with the highest 100 Mbps subscription rate, suggesting a virtuous take-up circle. However, there are still substantial differences between Member States, and between urban and rural areas, in both coverage and take-up.
While basic broadband is available to every European, mainly enabled by legacy infrastructures, this is no longer good enough for the ongoing digital transformation. Around half of Europeans own a smartphone, but cannot use its full potential because of major gaps in mobile data coverage and quality. Within the next 10 years, up to 50 billion objects, from homes to cars and watches, are expected to be connected worldwide – the great majority of them wirelessly.
Transformative solutions based on Internet connectivity – including cloud computing, Internet of Things, high-performance computing and big data analytics – will transform business processes and influence social interactions. Next-generation TV is likely to be a significant driver of bandwidth demand for households in the coming years. New digital applications – like virtual and augmented reality, increasingly connected and automated driving, remote surgery, artificial intelligence, precision farming – will require the speed, quality, and responsiveness that can only be delivered by very high-capacity broadband networks.
The European Commission’s public consultation on the needs for Internet speed and quality beyond 2020 and measures to fulfill these needs by 2025 reveals clear expectations for the quality of service of fixed Internet connectivity to improve by 2025, especially regarding downlink speed (above 1 Gbps) and responsiveness (less than 10 milliseconds), and confirms the increasing importance of features other than download speed for both fixed and mobile connectivity. These expectations are increasingly being reflected in Member States’ national broadband plans. 5G refers to the next generation of network technologies offering prospects for the new digital economy and business models.
The EECC is a revision of the current EU regulatory framework for electronic communications.
Overview of the EECC
The EU’s regulatory framework for electronic communications underpins the regulation of the UK’s telecoms sector. The core objectives of the regulatory framework are to:
● drive investment in very high capacity networks and services through sustainable
● support efficient and effective use of radio spectrum frequencies,
● maintain the security of networks and services, and
● provide a high level of consumer protection.
The existing EU Framework was agreed in 2002 and revised in 2009. Much of the Framework was transposed through the Communications Act 2003 and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, which will both be amended to incorporate the changes made by the EECC. The EU regulatory framework consisted of five Directives:
● the Framework Directive (2002/21/EC) ;
● the Access Directive (2002/19/EC) ;
● the Authorisation Directive (2002/20/EC) ;
● the Universal Service Directive (2002/22/EC) ; and 7
● the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC) .
Implementation of the EECC is mandatory and, for the most part, we have no discretion over whether to implement it. The powers and duties in the EECC take a number of different forms, and they may appear as a discretionary power for, or an obligation on the Government, NRA or another competent authority.
This Directive/regulations creates a legal framework to ensure freedom to provide electronic communications networks and services, subject only to the conditions laid down in this Directive and to any restrictions in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular measures regarding public policy, public security and public health, and consistent with Article 52(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the ‘Charter’).
The EECC was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 17 December 2018, and Member States have until 21 December 2020 to implement the provisions in domestic law.
European Electronic Communications Code full Text
Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council aims to create an internal market for electronic communications within the Union while ensuring a high level of investment, innovation and consumer protection through enhanced competition. That Directive also establishes a significant number of new tasks for the
Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (‘BEREC’) such as issuing guidelines on several topics, reporting on technical matters, keeping registers, lists or databases and delivering opinions on internal market procedures for draft national measures on market regulation.
Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council lays down additional tasks for BEREC in relation to open internet access. Moreover, the BEREC [Body of European Regulation for Electronic Communication] Guidelines of 30 August 2016 on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules have been welcomed as providing a valuable clarification of the guarantee of a strong, free and open internet by ensuring the consistent application of the rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of internet access services and related end-users’ rights. BEREC works for “Committed to ensure independent, consistent, high-quality application of the European regulatory framework for electronic communications markets for the benefit of Europe and its citizens.”
BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, will publish non-binding guidelines by 21 December 2020 on the criteria that a network should fulfil in order to be considered a VHCN. These guidelines are expected to provide criteria on down- and uplink bandwidth, resilience, error-related parameters and latency. The Government proposes to work with Ofcom to contribute to the work of BEREC on these guidelines. Our aim is that the criteria require gigabit-capable network performance. [UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport- Consultation Paper 2019]
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