This week (Tuesday 2 October) ENA provided insight and guidance for EU decision makers in Brussels, including MEPs and European Commission officials, at the European Parliament in a debate that addressed the ‘pros and cons’ of the electricity, gas and water companies sharing their existing infrastructure with telecommunications companies (Telcos) as they roll-out broadband across Europe.
It goes without saying that we recognise the potential for added value in establishing closer co-operation with the Telcos and the benefits of greater access to broadband for more people. Indeed here in the UK, rural communities rely on communications to be able to maintain their lifestyle and grow their businesses.
Unfortunately the UK regulatory regime does not currently incentivise the distribution networks to undertake these sorts of commercial projects under the regulatory framework, so that would need to change.
There are also important technical and safety rules and standards that the networks operate under and these would have to be respected, you just can’t take any chances with the safety and reliability of our networks. This would mean either our engineers training Telco staff, or potentially taking our own staff away from their other work to help the Telcos.
None of these are insuperable problems, but will need to be addressed in the new EU legislation. Each Member State is likely to need to address varying issues in their own country and so a less prescriptive approach to delivering broadband from the EU would be preferable.