Belgrade, 3-4 March 2020
9th Meeting of the Independent Regulators and Broadband Expert Working Group (IRB EWG)
During the meeting, Eleonora Vasilachi (Business and Professional Women) and Ihor Samokhodskyi (Better Regulation Delivery Office) emphasised that EaP governments can learn from EU Member States’ best practices in developing and deploying broadband technology.
Compared to the EU, the situation on broadband development and broadband mapping in the EaP countries is very diverse in terms of 3G/ 4G/ 5G coverage, development of fiber-optics infrastructure, access to Universal Services (including internet) in rural and urban areas.
Available, affordable and reliable broadband are key features for economic growth, innovation and employment that needs to be addressed and well reflected in all Broadband Strategies of all EaP countries. To ensure that objectives and benchmarks are met, the results of broadband mapping in the EaP countries (i.e. in terms of services, demand, infrastructure, etc) should be open to civil society.
Ihor Samokhodskyi (Better Regulation Delivery Office) stated that EaP countries can learn from best practices and lessons learnt in EU broadband mapping. He emphasized, however, that not one size fits all: every EaP country should approach broadband mapping by carefully analysing local conditions.
Samokhodskyi asked the participants to share information about national regulatory authorities (NRA) with civil society. Some EaP countries, such as Belarus, do not yet have an NRA. Others, such as the Ukrainian NRA, do not yes possess legal status or face functional independency.
The EaP Civil Society Forum should take the following actions:
- At national level, Working Group 2 should meet with EU4digital local missions once they visit the region. On these occasions, priorities and challenges concerning broadband mapping should be defined toward increased state aid for broadband development.
- At EaP level, civil society should collect centrally information about the current status of EaP countries’ NRAs, as well as their broadband strategy, plans and mapping.
- At EU level, the Civil Society Forum should advocate for making TAIEX/Twinning support available for broadband development in the EaP.
The EaPeReg convened for the ninth time, gathering the expertise of EU and EaP specialists on electronic communications from all 6 EaP Countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) as well as from EU MS (Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Romania) and Serbia.
The participants of the meeting engaged in an exchange about best-practices and lessons-learnt in broad mapping across the European Union. Representatives of the Slovenian NRA – AKOS, described their experience with broadband mapping in Slovenia. There, all mapping data is publicly available for everyone – a welcome practice, which is rather uncommon in other EU countries. The next meeting of IRB EWG will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia in October 2020.