The EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act: Faster, Cheaper and Simpler Rollout of High-Speed Networks


The EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act (GIA), which is set to become law after a political agreement reached in February 2024, responds to the ever-growing need for faster, more reliable, data-intensive connectivity in Europe. The key purpose of the GIA is to replace the 2014 Broadband Cost Reduction Directive and to facilitate the rollout of very high-capacity networks (VHCN) by addressing identified roadblocks such as expensive and complex procedures for network deployment. It is part of the EU’s wider goal of deploying gigabit-capable infrastructure across the EU by 2030.

  1. Main Objectives of the GIA:
    • Faster, Cheaper, Simpler Rollout: The GIA seeks to ensure faster, cheaper, and simpler rollout of Gigabit networks.
    • 2030 Digital Decade Target: The GIA contributes to achieving the 2030 Digital Decade target by ensuring cross-EU access to fast Gigabit connectivity and fast mobile data by 2030, with customers being served by gigabit networks and all populated areas being covered by 5G.
  2. Measures Introduced by the GIA:
    • Shared Use of Infrastructure: the GIA strengthens the encouragement for the shared use of ducts and poles for deploying VHCN, thus optimising resources and reducing costs.
    • Co-deployment and Coordination of Civil Works: Enables telecom operators to collaborate with public works projects to install fibre optic cables simultaneously, reducing disruptions and expediting broadband expansion.
    • Streamlining Administrative Procedures: Simplifies administrative procedures related to network rollout throughout the EU to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and improve efficiency.
    • High-speed Ready Infrastructure for Buildings: Encouragement to benefit buildings with high-speed ready infrastructure, facilitating broadband deployment and adoption.
    • Degree of Flexibility for EU Member States: Allows exceptions for critical national infrastructure.
  3. Environmental Considerations:
    • The GIA aims to reduce the environmental footprint of electronic communications networks.
    • It promotes the deployment of more environmentally efficient technologies, such as fibre and 5G.
    • It promotes the reuse of existing physical infrastructure and coordinating civil works to contribute to overall environmental impact reduction.
  4. Parallel Recommendation:


The GIA represents a significant step towards improving Europe’s digital infrastructure and fostering innovation in this era of data-intensive services and technologies. That said, it is not without its critics and earlier in 2024, industry groups representing European operators (ETNO, ECTA, the GSMA, and GigaEurope) released a joint statement warning that the GIA would damage both the telecoms companies and the wider sector due to greater regulatory pressures. Is more regulation good or bad when it is intended to facilitate positive outcomes? Time will tell. The benefits of a pan-European 5G network (in practice several different networks coming together) are immense and it is to be hoped that the GIA will serve to stimulate further investment into the relevant infrastructure.

The law will enter into force in May 2024 and be implemented over a period of 18 months.