EU revises state aid guidelines for broadband and 5G

EU revises state aid guidelines for broadband and 5G

The European Commission has updated, through a revision of the existing rules, the guidelines on state aid ("Broadband Guidelines") for the development of broadband networks, therefore optical fiber and 5G. The new guidelines establish the rules according to which the European Commission will evaluate state aid measures to each individual EU member for the development of broadband.

Revision of standards announced by the European Commission on 12 December 2022. The news is quite important as a new strategic objective is established by the EU member countries, namely that of guaranteeing at least Gigabit for all and total coverage of 5G by the end of the decade, a step which is considered "essential to achieve the digital transition of the Union".

The entry into force of these Guidelines will come into force in January 2023 on the day following the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The intention is to eliminate the digital divide to offer "all" European citizens fast, high-quality, secure and efficient connectivity. In detail, the new Guidelines aim to align the threshold of public support for fixed networks with the latest technologies available and new market developments.

Indeed, these changes will guarantee Member States to invest more resources in areas where the market currently does not provide, or where it has little interest in providing, the end user a download speed of at least 1Gbps and at least 150Mbps upload . Furthermore, the rules stipulate that “ any state investment must at least triple the available download speed “, while in competitive areas offer a minimum of 1 Gbps of speed.

Also with regard to mobile networks, and in particular in the development of 5G, the new Guidelines call for a faster increase in these new technologies by reducing obstacles of a bureaucratic, regulatory or economic nature . These measures also aim to promote digital inclusion in society by increasing access to broadband services.

New Guidelines are also being revised which clarify some important aspects such as the mapping of the territory, public consultations, the selection procedure, recovery mechanisms and wholesale access price. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of competition said:

“The new Boradband Guidelines adopted today represent an important step towards a successful European digital transition. They will make it easier for Member States to get support for the deployment of efficient broadband networks even in areas with poor connections.

Consumers, businesses and the public sector will benefit. By narrowing the digital divide, the new rules will help correct social inequalities across the EU.”