The market players’ views on international submarine connectivity in the EU

25 September 2023

Competition and market dynamics following the entry of new actors, the challenges faced in installing and operating submarine cables, and the expectations regarding the evolution of the European and national regulatory frameworks were in the focus of the virtual BEREC workshop held on 21 September 2023. 

Over 200 participants from 30 countries attended the workshop and engaged with the speakers on the current state of play of the international submarine connectivity business in the European Union (EU).

Subsea cable ecosystem in the spotlight of EU 

BEREC, represented by its Vice-Chair Annemarie Sipkes (ACM, The Netherlands), introduced its activities 2023 on the broader topic of international connectivity in response to the most recent EU framework and initiatives. In fact, the initiatives that followed the adoption of the Ministerial European Data Gateways Declaration of 2021, such as the EU Secure Connectivity Initiative and the CEF Digital Program 2021-2027, have put the subsea cable ecosystem in the spotlight of EU and national regulatory attention. The European Commission has outlined its plan for stronger and more transparent governance of connectivity infrastructure that plays a critical role in EU society, which has vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

Challenges and expectations 

During the workshop, the speakers from the industry and consultancy offered their insights and expertise with a focus on the workshop topics:

  • the competition and market dynamics following the entry of large content and application providers as new actors (also with regard to new investment schemes and the ownership of the infrastructure);
  • the challenges faced in the installation and operation of submarine cables (including those related to cable resilience, security and sustainability);
  • and the expectations regarding the evolution of the European and national regulatory frameworks, institutional organisation and public policies in this area.

While the EU institutional model was recognised as business-friendly and promising worldwide, industry speakers suggested that streamlining and harmonising national policies and obligations would be beneficial, as currently there is not an integrated regulatory regime for subsea cables at the national level; several national agencies and other authorities are involved, and administrative procedures are quite different from one country to the other. 

Further work

BEREC will continue to focus on this important topic. BEREC experts will incorporate the insightful contributions of the workshop into ongoing analysis in the draft BEREC report on the authorization and framework for international connectivity infrastructures and in the draft report on the entry of significant content and application providers into electronic communication networks and services. These reports are planned to be published by the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, respectively.