European Directive on High-Speed Electronic Communications to Lower Costs and Improve Service Delivery

The new European Directive will have a direct impact on smart grids and service delivery.
Published: Mon 01 Sep 2014

The digital economy is transforming the internal market dramatically. With its innovation, speed and reach across borders, it has the potential to take internal market integration to a whole new level. Therefore, all citizens, as well as the private and public sector, should have the opportunity to be part of the growing digital economy.

The European Union’s vision is to create a digital economy which delivers sustainable economic and social benefits based on modern online services and quick internet connections. A high quality digital infrastructure is the foundation of all sectors in a modern and innovative economy. It also carries strategic importance to social and territorial cohesion.

It is for this reason that the European Parliament and the Council recently adopted a Directive on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks. The Directive is aimed at enhancing the cooperation between telecommunications and utility providers in the deployment of high speed networks.

Lower costs and better service delivery

The digitization of the public sector will create a digital leverage effect on all sectors of the economy. In addition to the reduction in costs for public administrations, citizens can expect an increased efficiency in services.

Europacable, the voice of leading wire and cable manufacturers in Europe, welcomes the recent adoption by the European Parliament of the EU Directive. Thomas Neesen, Secretary General of Europacable says, “If implemented stringently, the new Directive will considerably reduce investment costs for broadband infrastructure. This will help to secure and improve Europe´s competitiveness in the increasingly digitalized global competition of the 21st century.”

Changing how telecoms and utilities work together

Engerati asked industry experts for their viewpoint on how this Directive will change the working relationship between telecoms and utilities:

Jeff Carkhuff, vice president of global product management for electricity at Itron says: “Generally speaking, the initiative calls for much broader access to high-speed, broadband communications for businesses and people throughout the EU. This enhanced infrastructure and capability will clearly support Europe’s smart grid, energy efficiency and renewables objectives. It also may cause some utilities in markets that have not yet solidified their smart metering and smart grid strategies to look for ways to leverage that infrastructure effectively. In the end, that just reinforces the need for open standards in network architectures.”

Andrew Jones, Managing Director - Europe, Middle East and Africa, S&C Electric Europe Ltd says, “The most significant part of the directive is the use of existing infrastructure to reduce costs. Utilities have both the infrastructure and the need so this should drive increased adoption of high speed communications. Saying this I do not expect utilities and telecoms to change their business models over night and there are a lot of details to be sorted that is likely to result in a slower adoption than the Directive intended.

I suspect that this will probably be more important to Community Energy Schemes at the start where the local stakeholders and the smaller scale will encourage more co-operation In summary a step in the right direction to encourage smart grids but don't expect a significant change immediately.”

Engerati member, Nick Hunn, has another view on this directive and whether it will change the way utilities and telecoms work together, “I doubt it will (change the way utilities and telecoms work together). The thrust of it appears to be that as different people dig up roads, wouldn't it make sense to coordinate so that the same holes could be used for laying fibre or utilities infrastructure. Slide 7 of their intro slide says it all - ‘More transparency, less digging’. This time they're taking the route that if the Government is subsidising civil works for fibre, then utilities could deploy new pipes,etc at reduced cost. Given most utilities have no idea of what they're digging up or when, it's probably all pie in the sky. Or should that be holes in the road? Still, it keeps lots of bureaucrats in work”

Further reading

European Commission-Digital Agenda for Europe

European Commission-Directive 2014/61/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council