Europe at 1 Giga: public investments in all areas where 300 Mbps are not reached

Copper mixed fiber is still a reality, when it is available, for a good part of Europens. With an FTTC connection (Fiber-to-the-Cab) up to 100 or 200 Mbps can be achieved under the best conditions. Eventually using techniques such as VDSL bonding it is possible to reach up to 300 or 400 Mbps in certain situations. To go up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) you need to have an infrastructure based on FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Home): in this case the fiber optic cable reaches the router of the subscriber or end user. With the Europe plan at 1 Giga the idea is to bring connections ultrabroadband in all areas of the country where 300 Mbps is not exceeded.

What is the 1 Giga Europe Plan

The implementation of the Plan Europe at 1 Giga provides for the use of an incentive model for the gray and black areas: the State bears the costs for network creation to an extent that can reach 70%. The network, on the other hand, remains with the company that creates it: however, this entity must undertake to guarantee wholesale access (wholesale) on equal terms for all telecommunications operators interested in using it.

This is a very different approach to the one applied for the ultra-broadband coverage of the white areas of Europe. In areas where there is no competition between operators and no private entity had ever made investments before, the concessionaire Open Fiber is called to create the network which remains entirely public property. L’economic investment in favor of the concessionaire, is retained by the latter.

In another article we saw the difference between white, gray and black areas: alongside the interventions carried out by Open Fiber (and still in progress) in the white areas of Europe, the 1 Giga Europe Plan “relaunches” focusing precisely on gray and black areas. Using funds from National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) equal to about 3.86 billion euros, the goal is to adjust the areas of the country where there is already competition and where a network already exists.

At least 1 Gbps downstream and 200 Mbps upstream while respecting network access mode neutrality

The crucial step is bring 1 Gbps downstream in the gray and black areas starting from the areas in which, at least until 2026, it is not and will not be possible to exceed 300 Mbps (about 7 million real estate units as indicated by Infratel Europe).

The performance of network connections in Europe is constantly monitored and clicking on Fixed in AGCOM Broadband Map it is possible to consult the map with the most up-to-date surveys. It is thus possible to know, for example, what is the connection speed at the street numbers adjacent to your own.

Plan Europe at 1 Giga provides that the logic of the neutrality with respect to the type of Access mode to the network. So it doesn’t matter if 1 Gbps downstream and 200 Mbps upstream are brought to end users via FTTH connections, using FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) or using 5G technologies.

Differently from what was done in the case of the white areas with the model under concession, the incentives for operators envisaged in the Europe 1 Giga Plan are paid by the State if and only if the companies that build the network are also responsible for vertical section to reach the subscriber or final customer. Restricting the obtainment of incentives to the construction of the vertical section means enabling users to be able to immediately activate a subscription for the use of the service gang ultras.

Who builds the 1 Gbps downstream network in the gray and black areas of Europe: Open Fiber and FiberCop

After the award by Electra TLC of the 1 Giga Europe tender for the coverage of the smaller islands, at the end of May 2022 Open Fiber e FiberCop the tenders for the coverage of the entire national territory have been won. Open Fiber is called upon to deal with 8 lots; FiberCop of 6 lots. In another article we have listed the regions that will be covered at 1 Gbps by FiberCop and Open Fiber.

In the presence of the Minister for technological innovation and digital transition Vittorio Colao, the managing director of Infratel Europe, Marco Bellezza, and the representatives of the companies awarded the contract Open Fiber, TIM and INWIT, the contracts will be signed on 29 July 2022 for starting the roofing work.

One year later, Open Fiber announces the activation of the first user

After focusing on network construction activities as part of the 1 Giga Europe Plan, Open Fiber announced on June 13, 2023 that it had connected the first end user.

Activation took place at Island of Femalesin the province of Palermo, thanks to the collaboration of Dimension, Open Fiber partner operator. The intervention lasted a few hours, allowing the customer to immediately benefit from cutting-edge connectivity thanks to the FTTH fiber optic infrastructure financed by the PNRR.

Simone Lo Nostro, director of the Open Fiber residential market, said that the company is now starting the “marketing of services also in the so-called gray areas, thus further reducing the digital divide between the different areas of Europe“.

Con 13.5 million real estate units already connected to its new fiber network, Open Fiber is the main Europen operator of FTTH optical fiber. The overall plan of the company, between private investment e public, is worth over 15 billion euros. To date, ultra-fast connectivity on the network created by Open Fiber is available in 240 cities and around 5,000 small municipalities. These numbers are destined to grow with the addition of many locations identified as part of the 1 Giga Europe Plan, materially launched at the end of 2022.

Speed ​​up your roofing plan with the support of professionals

With the specific intention of streamlining the acquisition of permits for the construction of the network, for field surveys, for the design and construction management, in May 2023 Infratel entered into an agreement with the professional orders Europens.

The parties awarded tenders for the 1 Giga Europe Plan can thus have a centralized channel, on a provincial basis, for recruit technicians with proven experience and professionalism in the field of ultra-fast networks. The National Council of Engineers, that of Architects and Surveyors have in fact confirmed their availability in order to mitigate the accumulated delays and accelerate the completion of the coverage plan.

It is up to the various Councils to set up technician lists e professionals sector with specific skills. The lists are periodically updated and both Open Fiber and FiberCop can access them directly.

The Europe 5G plan

Alongside the Europe 1 Giga plan, which focuses on access from a fixed location, the project was also launched Europe 5G. In this the ultimate goal is to bring or enhance the 5G technology at over 11,000 existing mobile radio sites. The plan also includes the installation of new ones mobile radio stations in nearly 1,400 areas of the country considered to be market failure.

The initiatives dedicated to 5G are divided into two separate “incentive” tenders, both with public funding of up to 90% of the total cost of the works. The first call, assigned to TIM, envisages investments for the construction of fiber optic connections of existing mobile radio sites. The second call, assigned to the temporary grouping of companies made up of INWIT, Vodafone and Tim, is dedicated to “densification” of 5G networks financing the construction of new base stations with transmission speeds of at least 150 Mbps downstream and 30 Mbps upstream.

Europe will be the first country in Europe to have 5G mobile networks entirely bound in optical fiber, an essential requirement for guaranteeing very high connection speeds and minimum latency everywhere“, Infratel spokesmen noted.

3.4 billion euros were allocated to the works relating to the Europe 1 Giga tender, 725 million euros were allocated for the 5G mobile networks, with two separate incentive tenders, for the enhancement of mobile networks and €346 million for new mobile radio stations.

On the subject of Gigabit society in another of our articles we talk about the difference between gigabit and gigabyte.

In the meantime the work of AGCOM which intends to consider broadband as a universal service on a par with telephone, electricity and postal services.

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