Broadband Internet access forms one of the cornerstones of the digital revolution. Non-discriminatory, safe and efficient access to the Internet should be ensured as a service in the public interest in order to enable everyone to participate in economic life and in society. Without a high-quality and sustainable digital infrastructure, it is not just the use and operation of services that is restricted or made considerably more difficult, but also the use and development of technologies. To this end, we need to establish the necessary framework in terms of law, non-discrimination (net neutrality) and standardization as well as considering technological issues.
The implementation of the Broadband Strategy 2020, which aims to provide nationwide ultrafast Internet access by 2020, is an important step in also providing broadband in areas where rollout for private companies is not economically viable. Only investment that can also be sustainably used in a later rollout stage is supported. The funding instruments are designed to be used jointly to bridge the digital divide between town and countryside.
Due to the increasing digital integration of social and economic processes, mobile use of the Internet is rising significantly. The mobile telecommunications standard 5G, which is currently being developed, is likely to be the key technology of the future in this area. Higher data rates, low latency and a high density of connected end devices will enable a wide range of new business models to be developed in areas such as self-driving vehicles, Industry 4.0, digital agricultural engineering, trades and crafts, energy, eLearning, eGovernment, eHealth and logistics. Austria can only remain competitive on the international stage if the appropriate digital infrastructure is available. The aim is therefore to make Austria a leading 5G pilot country in Europe.
Infrastructure funding programmes in the master plan:
- BBA2020_A Area programme (access): expansion of the geographical coverage of high-performance broadband networks
- BBA2020_B Backhaul programme: connection of existing stand-alone solutions to efficient data highways
- BBA2020_LeRohr Ducting programme: funding of the laying of ducting during construction work for non-discriminatory use for broadband networks
In addition to financial measures, a legal framework and regulatory measures are required during infrastructure development in order to increase private sector investment in broadband expansion and to ensure competition and consumer protection. At the same time, the (re-)emergence of monopolies and excessive market concentration should be prevented.
- Fund broadband expansion as part of the broadband offensive in areas where expansion is not economically viable for the private sector
- Specifically fund excavation costs as part of the broadband offensive in order to provide a connection for schools or small and medium-sized companies
- Develop a strategy to introduce the fifth generation of mobile telecommunications (5G strategy)
- Create a legal framework for the availability of infrastructure (e.g. shared use, frequencies)
Infrastructure managers are faced with the challenge of having to upgrade their networks due to the ever increasing volumes of data transfer. Their options for receiving remuneration for prioritizing certain services are limited by law. The equal treatment of data streams is one of the fundamental goals of an open Internet. Any exceptions can only be made in accordance with the net neutrality regulations.
The more complex the interconnections, the more important it becomes to ensure compatibility and interoperability. Open standards encourage productivity, migratability for consumers, data protection and the economic value chain. They also help to prevent or reduce market dominance and dependencies. A strategic standardization and standards policy will safeguard the interests of the Austrian ICT industry, with public administration able to act as an important driving force here.
- Support programmes that can drive forward and accelerate the development of standards
- Encourage public administration and also research and educational institutions (universities, colleges of higher education, schools) to use open standards with scheduled migration paths so that all those involved can adapt their developments and investments accordingly