The European Broadband Competence Offices Network is a European Commission initiative with the purpose of supporting Member States to reach the EU Digital Agenda objectives, with an emphasis on the Digital Single Market and Gigabit Society.
The Digital Single Market is one of the top priorities of the European Commission for 2014-2020 because it has the potential to unleash growth, competition, investment and innovation, while creating new sources of employment.
In order to bring the full social and economic benefits of the Digital Single Market to all citizens, a digital transformation in both rural and urban areas is needed. To achieve this transformation, however, widespread deployment and uptake of very high capacity networks is a necessity throughout the European Union.
The BCO Network exists to support Member States and regions in achieving this. It does this through the exchange of knowledge, experience and good practices among its members and with the European Commission, and through an annual programme of training and capacity building.
The overall goal is to ensure that all EU citizens, even in rural and remote areas, have high-speed broadband access, allowing everyone to benefit equally from all the opportunities available online – such as education, health, government services, and business.
The BCO Network is expected to play an important role in broadband development in rural and remote areas, as a key part of the Rural Broadband Action Plan. Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, said in a joint statement after the launch event:
“All EU citizens should be able to benefit from high-speed broadband connections. This is not the case today, especially in rural areas, which are less attractive to investors. This is why the Commission pays particular attention to good connectivity and supports the roll-out of broadband connections to 18 million rural citizens until 2020. The Broadband Competence Offices are an important step forward to bridge financing with potential investors, authorities and citizens. They must work on concrete issues and help on the ground with professional adapted advice to boost broadband investment. We also launched a toolkit on how best to accelerate this process and facilitate investments in rural areas. This toolkit will be finalised by mid next year. If we want to keep our rural communities strong and sustainable, while generating the additional benefit of reducing the burden on our cities, we need to do more, and we need to do it faster.”
In order to support EU Member States in reaching the EU connectivity targets, the primary objective of the BCO Network and Support Facility has been to connect, share knowledge and build capacity.
They connect broadband authorities across European Member States and regions with one another, and with experts and European Commission representatives to share knowledge on good practices, policy, planning, and funding, and build capacity through an annual programme of events and resources.
The functions of a Broadband Competence Office include:
- Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of broadband investments;
- Underpinning the implementation of the Digital Single Market by accelerating public investment in broadband, including through the ERDF and EAFRD;
- Providing advice and assistance to citizens and businesses about broadband deployment
- Mapping of broadband coverage, quality of service and penetration, future investment plans, etc.
- Supporting the expertise/administrative capacity of public authorities in the planning, implementation and monitoring of broadband projects;
- Helping in the coordination with EU relevant entities: EIAH, Jaspers, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) and Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT);
- Promoting the use of financial instruments
In our country, the national BCO is the Directorate for Broadband and Electronic Communications Networks in the General Secretariat for Telecommunications and Posts of the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media (Government Gazette A 117/2017).
The European network of BCOs is already in operation and Greece is actively involved in these activities.
More information on the activities of the European network of BCOs is available on the relevant European Commission website.
Contact information of responsible authorities and Broadband Competence Offices in the Member States are available here and the Greek BCO contact details are:
Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media
General Secretariat for Telecommunications and Post
Directorate for Broadband and Electronic Communications Networks
11 Fragkoudi Str. & Al. Pantou, Kallithea,
101 63, Athens, Greece
Phone: +30 210 909 8890
e-mail: [email protected]