This page expands on the BCRD or the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive, a European Directive including measures to lower the roll-out costs of telecom networks by focussing on sharing infrastructure and on co-executing civil works.
- What is the BCRD or Broadband Cost Reduction Directive?
- Main definitions in the BCRD
- BCRD content
- BCRD transposition in Belgium
- Further Belgian stipulations and related platforms in Belgium
- The review of the BCRD
What is the BCRD or Broadband Cost Reduction Directive?
The Broadband Cost Reduction Directive is the European Directive 2014/61/EU on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks.
The Directive includes a number of provisions, for instance on the re-use of existing physical infrastructure of (among other things) utility companies (such as ducts, masts, towers, etc.) to deploy high-speed telecom networks. The Directive also regards the coordination of civil works in all sectors, among which those of telecoms, energy, wastewater, transportation and other industrial sectors involving infrastructure. These measures create the terms for a more efficient roll-out of new physical infrastructure. A very considerable part of expenses for the roll-out of broadband networks goes to construction works, such as breaking up streets. These stipulations aim to provide more people in the EU with access to ultrafast Internet.
Consequently, the BCRD can be an important tool in the roll-out of fibre networks.
Main definitions in the BCRD
Physical infrastructure: any element of a network which is intended to host other elements of a network without becoming itself an active element of the network (for instance ducts, manholes, masts, street cabinets, etc.). It is important to note that this does not include cables, so not the fibre in itself.
Network operator: an undertaking providing communications networks or an undertaking providing a physical infrastructure intended for, e.g., the distribution of gas or transportation services.
In-building physical infrastructure: physical infrastructure or installations at the end-user's location, intended to host wired and/or wireless access networks (so not the cables as such), where such access networks are capable of connecting the building access point with the network termination point - also see the figure below.
Access point: a physical point, located inside or outside the building, accessible to undertakings providing public communications networks, where connection to the in-building physical infrastructure is made available - also see the figure below.
Broadly speaking, the BCRD contains the following elements. These stipulations all apply in the context of the roll-out of high-speed networks, i.e. networks capable of providing broadband access services at a speed of at least 30 Mbps:
Access to existing physical infrastructure and the minimum information relating to this:
- Each network operator has to oblige reasonable requests for access to his infrastructure, coming from a telecom operator wishing to roll-out high-speeds networks.
- In addition, these telecom operators are entitled to minimum information regarding this infrastructure (location and route, type and current use of the infrastructure, as well as a contact point). This minimum information can be shared via a single information point.
- On-site surveys should be possible following a reasonable request in order for a telecom operator to assess this infrastructure with a view to deploying a high-speed network.
Coordination of civil works and the minimum information relating to this:
- Each network operator is entitled to negotiate with the telecom operators about the coordination of civil works.
- In addition, each network operator carrying out civil works that are at least partially (and indirectly as well) funded by public means, is obliged to meet any reasonable request for coordination.
- In addition, network operators have to share certain minimum information on ongoing or planned civil works regarding their physical infrastructure, upon request by a telecom operator (location and type of work, network elements involved, the estimated starting date of the works and their estimated duration, as well as a contact point). This minimum information can be shared via the single information point.
Requirements for the physical in-building infrastructure for new buildings and major renovations: the physical in-building infrastructure to the network termination points has to be high-speed-ready. Moreover, all recent multi-dwelling buildings have to be equipped with an access point. Exemptions from these requirements are possible.
Access to physical in-building infrastructure:
- Every telecom operator has the right to roll-out his network to the access point;
- Moreover, each telecom operator has the right to access to all existing physical in-building infrastructure, if duplication is technically impossible or economically inefficient;
- Any holder of a right to use the access point/the in-building physical infrastructure has to meet all reasonable requests (under fair conditions) for access from a telecom operator.
A national dispute settlement body shall issue a binding decision on the terms of these conditions in case of a dispute.
All relevant information on the permit-granting procedure for civil works has to be made available via the single information point and decisions to grant or refuse permits should be adopted within 4 months.
BCRD transposition in Belgium
The BCRD has been transposed in the Belgian legislation at different levels (interfederal, federal and regional).
There are different Acts, Decisions or Decrees each transposing a part of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive.
These are the main documents transposing the BCRD:
- At the interfederal level there is the Cooperation Agreement of 14 July 2017 between the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions in the context of the transposition of Directive 2014/61/EU, establishing the body for dispute settlement regarding network infrastructures.
- At the federal level the following provisions exist:
- Act of 31 July 2017 pertaining to various provisions on electronic communications, introducing, among other things, amendments to the Telecom Act of 13 June 2005.
- The Act of 31 July 2017 amending the Act of 12 April 1965 on the transport of gaseous and other products by pipelines and the Act of 29 April 1999 on the organisation of the electricity market, with a view to reducing the cost for deploying high-speed electronic communications networks, laying down stipulations regarding the gas and electricity infrastructure.
- Royal Decree of 29 July 2019 regarding transportation by railway aiming to reduce the cost for deploying high-speed electronic communications networks, laying down stipulations regarding the railway infrastructure.
- At the Flemish level the following provisions exist:
- Decree of the Flemish Parliament of 10 November 2017 regarding measures aiming to reduce the cost for deploying high-speed electronic communications networks and amending various decrees: this applies to physical infrastructure which falls within the Flemish competence (distribution of gas and electricity, city heating, water, transport services such as De Lijn and the like) as well as the electronic communications operators in the sense of the Media Decree (27 March 1990). In addition, this decree amends a number of other decrees as well, among which the GIPOD Decree of 4 April 2014 (Generiek Informatie Platform Openbaar Domein or Generic Information Platform Public Domain, regarding the coordination of civil works).
- Decree of the Flemish Government of 9 June 2017 establishing a regional town planning regulation regarding broadband: this decision contains stipulations on the physical in-building infrastructure.
- At the Walloon level the following provisions exist:
- Decree of 26 October 2017 amending various provisions regarding the electricity and gas market as well as utility companies: this decree lays down the provisions for the regional electricity market, the regional gas market and the construction sites on roads or watercourses.
- Decree of 24 May 2018 on the deployment of in-building high-speed electronic communications networks: this decision contains provisions on the physical in-building infrastructure.
- Decree of the Walloon Government of 1 February 2018 regarding the access to the system operators’ physical infrastructures by the electronic communications operators: this Decree contains more explanations regarding the specifics of the procedure, fair and reasonable terms and conditions regarding the access to the gas and electricity operators’ infrastructures.
- Ministerial circular of 12 October 2015 promoting the coordination of the fitting works within the “ parcs d'activités économiques” (industrial parcs): contains provisions to encourage the use of common trenches.
- For the Brussels Capital Region the following provisions exist:
- Ordinance of 3 May 2018 regarding building sites on roadways: This contains comprehensive provisions on the coordination of building sites in the Brussels Capital Region and the requests of permits. This ordinance contains only little literal transposition of the BCRD.
- Decree of the Government of the Brussels Capital Region of 4 April 2019 amending the Decree of the Government of the Brussels Capital Region of 21 November 2006 ratifying Titles I to III of the regional town planning regulation, applicable to the entire territory of the Brussels Capital Region: This transposes the part of the BCRD on physical in-building infrastructure.
- Ordinance of 17 October 2019 amending the Ordinance of 26 July 2013 on the access to and the exchange of information on underground cables, ducts and pipes: this ordinance contains a number of fairly literal transpositions of the BCRD.
There are also a number of decrees committing, per competence, to the Cooperation Agreement.
Further Belgian stipulations and related platforms in Belgium
The provisions in the BCRD have been laid down at the European level, but this does not exclude that the Belgian legislation contains additional provisions on the information and access to physical infrastructure and on the coordinated deployment of networks.
There is for instance the concept of “working in synergy”, which, contrary to what is described in the BCRD, is not only compulsory for network operators performing civil works funded with government means.
In that regard we refer to the platforms used in this context in Belgium, and which usually have more functionalities than laid down in the BCRD:
- KLIM-CICC is short for Kabels en Leidingen Informatie Meldpunt – Point de Contact fédéral Information Câbles et Conduites (Federal Cable and Pipeline Management Database). You will find more information on the page about KLIM.
- KLIP is short for Kabel- en Leidinginformatieportaal (Cable and Pipeline Information Portal) and is a web-based application in the Flemish Region aiming to help prevent excavation damage to cables and pipelines. You will find more information on the page about KLIP.
- GIPOD is short for Generiek Informatieplatform Openbaar Domein (Generic Information Platform Public Domain) and is used in Flanders for the coordination of civil works. You will find more information on the page about GIPOD.
- PoWalCo is short for Plateforme Wallonne de Coordination des chantiers (Walloon coordination platform for building sites) and is used in Wallonia for the coordination of civil works. You will find more information on the page about PoWalCo.
- Osiris is used in the Brussels Capital Region for the coordination of construction sites on the public roads. You will find more information on the page about Osiris.
The review of the BCRD
It is important to note that the European Commission is currently working on the review of the BCRD in order to render it even more efficient at accelerating the roll-out of high-speed networks. The public consultation with regard to this, ended on 2 March 2021 and the new Directive is expected during the first quarter of 2022.