BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE MAPPING
(A.) Policy and legislation
(A.1) Policy objectives
The digital single market15 must be built on reliable and trustworthy data. In this context, the European Commission has launched a project to map fixed and mobile quality of broadband services in Europe. https://www.broadband-mapping.eu/. The tool went live in May 2020. It consists of an interactive online mapping application that aggregates and visualizes various dimensions of quality of service (QoS) delivered by broadband networks (fixed and mobile) in the European Union. The project constitutes a crucial instrument to assess and monitor the achievement of the new connectivity goals as described in the Communication on Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – Towards a European Gigabit Society16 and the 5G action plan. However data-collection is on a voluntary basis and therefore the data set is not yet complete.
In 2017, in order to complement the deployment of the EU broadband mapping platform, the Commission has launched a new study on Fixed and Mobile Convergence in Europe (SMART 2016/0046). On the basis of the datasets collected in the EU broadband mapping platform, the study will support the EU policy-making process by assessing the technical/political/economic obstacles that prevent the definition of common (fixed and mobile) network performance measurements in the Union. In 2019 BEREC started work on the development of Guidelines on Geographic Surveys of the new CODE for Electronic Communication. In March 2020, the guidelines were adopted with a second phase on the identification of areas for investment due to be completed by end 2020. In parallel, the European Commission has started the development of a mapping broadband coverage methodology based on the BEREC guidelines with a view to meet the mapping requirement of EU level needs on monitoring, programming of funds and state aid assessment. The mapping methodology is due to be tested and finalised in 2021.
(A.2) EC perspective and progress report
Telecom manufacturers, operators and other stakeholders have an interest in assuring a minimum of interoperability of broadband infrastructure mapping to facilitate the deployment of next-generation networks, simplify their operation, reduce cost and finally open up a single market dimension.
In order to achieve the EU broadband objectives of the Digital Agenda Europe, it is fundamentally important that there is reliable and valid data on existing and planned broadband infrastructures, services offered; and demand and investment. A standardised mapping of broadband infrastructures and services as well as of other related data will help identify gaps of broadband coverage and quality of service level and identify suitable areas of investment. Increasing the reliability of coverage data (QS1) will be particularly useful to avoid duplication of financing as subsidies can be allocated to areas truly affected by market failure and regulatory needs linked to market regulation. Gathering reliable quality of service data (QS2 and QS3) based on common methodologies will feed into other regulatory aspect linked to net neutrality and consumer protection as well as assisting in the provision of reliable 5G services to vertical industries.
The Broadband mapping project has revealed that in the absence of a commonly agreed methodologies for all three aspects, Member States administrations have developed a variety of different methodologies to map coverage and quality of service resulting in multiple mapping initiatives using different data sets and attributes (which NRAs, Ministries, regional agencies are sometimes running in parallel). Mapping data is not comparable across the EU and often public authorities lack detailed and reliable data to set policies, to ensure that public funding is compliant with relevant regulation, to programme funds and successfully monitor the execution of these actions at regional, national and European level. This lack of reliable data risks resulting in policy paralysis, in regulatory uncertainty, and poor planning of broadband projects.
The EU mapping platform collects three data sets concerning fixed and wireless services including:
- QoS-1: Calculated availability of service, network performance of existing infrastructure (coverage);
- QoS-2: Measured provision of service, excluding end user’s environment;
- QoS-3: Measured experience of service, including end user’s environment
In 2017, in order to complement the deployment of the EU broadband mapping platform, the Commission has launched a new study on Fixed and Mobile Convergence in Europe (SMART 2016/0046). On the basis of the datasets collected in the EU broadband mapping platform, the study aimed at supporting the EU policy-making process by assessing the technical/political/economic obstacles that prevent the definition of common (fixed and mobile) network performance measurements in the Union. The study argued that the greatest challenges for the Digital Single Market (DSM) will not just be politico-economic but increasingly regulatory and technical including the need to define common standards and concluded that the possibility of agreement on the delivery of the new digital infrastructure that consumers and business will need over the next decade should take place in this critical moment. It could be possible to reach agreement with the key stakeholders, the national regulatory authorities (NRAs), essentially through their consultative bodies, such as BEREC, on the quality measures necessary, in terms of indicators, metrics methods and benchmark values. The report Fixed and Mobile Convergence in Europe aimed at future design of practical 5G ecosystems for vertical industry applications. There are several proposals for improving network quality indicators to assure high performance, with reliable and resilient operation. Additionally, the scope of network quality of experience (QoE) for the end-user is extended to fit the reality of today’s digital society.
Broadly speaking, the study found that there is no international example outside the EU that offers a model for the EU to follow in terms of QoS/QoE metrics, coverage obligations, measurement methods or enforcement practices. That is why the study suggested the creation of a framework within which they could be organized and implemented. Their basis is collective EU-wide agreements agreed in collaboration with all stakeholders, along with implementation plan, which would probably need to be phased and with a selected number of key quality indicators (KQIs) which would be based on the QoE/QoS parameters.
To build a complete European framework for networking quality, the following actions would be required: a common platform for measurement, financing the common platform, the establishment of a European KQI database of quality measurement for consumers, including key elements such as reliability and resilience which will become benchmark parameters as networks advance. Indeed, uniform minimum standards for continuity of service throughout Europe will be increasingly important as society’s dependence on network services grows. Standards could look into energy efficiency and pollution reduction, Network security, Privacy and identity protection and Health and safety rules. Finally, the study suggests the creation of a regional model for mobile coverage obligations. To reach optimum levels of ubiquitous broadband access, a variety of forms of public support and funding may be necessary17.
In 2018, the Commission launched a study to develop a common methodology to map fixed and wireless broadband coverage and future investment needs, which will support decision making in the fields of: policy, funding, implementation and monitoring of broadband deployment. The EC is currently preparing the procurement call for the further development of (the third phase) the EU mapping platform with a view to make progress and collect comparable data sets based on common methodology for all three types of datasets. BEREC members and relevant working groups will continue to be fully involved into the work with a view to achieve an agreed EU-wide approach in each domain and exploring the possibility to achieve common international standards over the coming years.
- Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on universal service user’s rights relating to electronic communication networks and services (Amended by Directive 2009/136/EC)
- European Electronic Communication Code COM(2016) 590 final/2
- Directive 2002/ 21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (amended by Directive 2009/140/EC)
- Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)
- BEREC Net neutrality measurement tool (October 2017)
- BEREC Common Position on monitoring of mobile network coverage (July 2018)
- RSPG and BEREC joint report on mobile connectivity in ‘challenge areas’ (December 2017)
- Study from the EC commissioned to IMIT - Fixed and Mobile Convergence in Europe: SMART 2016/0046 https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/study-fixed-and-mobile-convergence-europe-2017
- BEREC preliminary report in the view of a Common Position on monitoring of mobile network coverage (December 2017)
(B.) Requested actions
Action 1 SDOs to develop standardised methodology and guidelines to assess and map availability and quality of fixed and wireless/mobile broadband services (including coverage, QoS and QoE, key quality indicators - KQI) also in view of the development of VHC (very high-capacity) and 5G services for a range of public and private users including the large industries such as vertical industrial sectors.
Action 2 SDOs to develop standardised methodology to run public consultations and map future broadband investments in the EU.
(C.) Activities and additional information
(C.1) Related standardisation activities
CLC/TC 209 has developed and maintains a complete set of European standards in the field of cable networks for television signals, sound signals and interactive services. This EN series, EN 60728, deals with cable networks, including equipment and associated methods of measurement for headend reception, processing and distribution of television and sound signals and for processing, interfacing and transmitting all kinds of data signals for interactive services using all applicable transmission media. These signals are typically transmitted in networks by frequency-multiplexing techniques.
- a) regional and local broadband cable networks (i.e. based on optical fibre and coaxial cables)
- b) extended satellite and terrestrial television distribution networks or systems
- c) individual networks or systems that receive satellite and terrestrial television, and all kinds of equipment, systems and installations used in such cable networks, distribution and receiving systems.
The extent of this standardisation work is from the antennas and/or special signal source inputs to the headend or other interface points to the network up to the terminal input of the customer premises equipment.
The standardisation takes into account coexistence with users of the RF spectrum in wired and wireless transmission systems.
Typical data rates for internet access in these kind of networks range from 30 Mbit/s to 200 Mbit/s, with cable network operators now starting to introduce gigabit services to their customers.
CLC/TC 215 have published, among others, EN 50173-4 on broadband cabling of private homes (both copper and optical fibre cabling) and EN 50700 on fibre optic access network cabling design. CLC/TC 46X ‘Communication cables’ have published and will maintain cable standards to support those different systems (e.g. EN 60966 series, EN 50117 series, EN 50288 series, EN 50441 series, EN 50407 series).
ETSI has continually developed an extensive set of standards aimed at measurement, testing, quality assurance and quality of service in communications networks.
ETSI TC STQ (Speech and Multimedia Transmission Quality) is responsible for standardisation relating to terminals and networks for speech and media quality, end-to-end single media and multimedia transmission performance, Quality of Service (QoS) parameters for networks and services and Quality of Experience (QoE) descriptors and methods. STQ have developed a series of standards dealing with quality of service as perceived by the user, performance metrics and measurement methods. STQ are developing a Technical Report on best practices for robust network QoS benchmark testing and ranking (TR 103 559). They have also developed TRs and ETSI Guides on throughput measurement guidelines.
ETSI TC INT (Core Network and Interoperability Testing) is responsible for the development of core network test specifications for interoperability, conformance, performance and security. TC INT is developing a TS for a methodology for end to end internet related customer experience measurements for fixed and mobile networks. It will describe the concept, the requirements, the parameters and the procedures which should be used for Internet speed quality measurements, and is being developed in cooperation with ITU-T SG.11.
ETSI TC CABLE is responsible for standardisation related to integrated broadband cable telecommunication network technologies. TC CABLE is developing a TS on measurement methods for the network performance of broadband data services. The focus is on measurement of QoS performance in the access network. While the TS is taking the cable access network into account, the methods are designed in a network agnostic way such that their applicability to other delivery networks of broadband data services is not precluded. TC CABLE is engaging with stakeholders on the European level to establish standardized methodology enabling consumers to compare the performance of different service providers.
ITU-T Study Group 12, on Performance, Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE), continues studying performance of packet-based networks and other networking technologies.
The 2019 edition of Recommendation ITU-T Y.1540 Internet protocol data communication service – IP packet transfer and availability performance parameters recognizes many changes in the design of IP services and in the protocols employed by end-users.
ITU-T Y.1540 (2019) introduced new Annexes A and B that defines IP-layer Capacity parameters in ways that cater toward assessment, and provides requirements for reliable methods of measurement of IP-layer Capacity.
The updated international standard, available at https://itu.int/ITU-T/Y.1540 is aligned with related relevant work in ETSI TC STQ, BBF, IETF, among others. An open source implementation of the Y.1540 methodology for UDP-based IP capacity measurements is available. A Supplement accompanying Y.1540 provides guidance on the interpretation of IP-layer capacity measurements, examples of testing campaigns and a brief introduction to the open source implementation. It is available at https://www.itu.int/rec/T-REC-Y.Sup60/en.
Recommendation ITU-T E.806 (2019) (https://itu.int/ITU-T/E.806) provides guidance on measurement campaigns, monitoring systems and sampling methodologies to monitor the quality of service in mobile networks.
Recommendation ITU-T E.812 (2020) (https://itu.int/ITU-T/E.812) introduces the crowdsourcing approach for the assessment of end-to-end quality of service in fixed and mobile broadband networks. Use cases of the crowdsourcing approach include the assessment of mobile network coverage of mobile networks, as well as performance monitoring and benchmarking for fixed and mobile networks.
Recommendation ITU-T Y.1545.1 (2017) (https://itu.int/ITU-T/Y.1545.1) provides guidance on monitoring the QoS of Internet services to regulators, network service providers and subscribers.
ITU-T SG11 approved a new Recommendation ITU-T Q.3960 “Framework for Internet related performance measurements”. It aims to enable the customers of telecom networks’ to estimate their Internet performance access: http://www.itu.int/itu-t/q.3960 . Also, testing procedures are described in Supplement 71 to ITU-T Q.3960 “Testing methodologies of Internet related performance measurements including e2e bit rate within the fixed and mobile operator’s networks “. https://itu.int/ITU-T/workprog/wp_item.aspx?isn=13819
SG11 developed several Recommendations related to broadband network gateway, including Recommendations ITU-T Q.3713 “Signalling requirements for broadband network gateway pool”, ITU-T Q.3715 “Signalling requirements for dynamic bandwidth adjustment on demand on broadband network gateway implemented by software-defined networking technologies”, ITU-T Q.3719 “Signalling requirements for the separation of control plane and user plane in a virtualized broadband network gateway (vBNG)”, ITU-T Q.3720 “Procedures for vBNG acceleration with programmable acceleration card”, ITU-T Q.4064 “Interoperability testing requirements of virtual Broadband Network Gateway”. It also developed Recommendation ITU-T Q.3405 “IPv6 protocol procedures for broadband services” which defines the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) procedures which support broadband services with IPv6 transition.
ITU-T SG13 created the ITU-T Focus Group on Technologies for Network 2030 (FG NET-2030) to look at the enhanced broadband, low latency and guaranteed type of communications to be available on the networks of far future around 2030 - 2035. This implies dealing with fixed, mobile, satellite and many networks operation. More about the area of expertise, study and objectives of the group is elaborated in the White Paper, “Network 2030 - A Blueprint of Technology, Applications and Market Drivers Towards the Year 2030 and Beyond” (05.2019): https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/net2030/Documents/White_Paper.pdf
ITU-T SG15 is responsible in ITU-T for the development of standards for the optical transport network, access network, home network and power utility network infrastructures, systems, equipment, optical fibres and cables. This includes related installation, maintenance, management, test, instrumentation and measurement techniques, and control plane technologies to enable the evolution toward intelligent transport networks, including the support of smart-grid applications.
More info: http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/go/tsg15
The Large-Scale Measurement of Broadband Performance (LMAP) Working Group standardised the LMAP measurement system for performance measurements of broadband access devices such as home and enterprise edge routers, personal computers, mobile devices, and set top boxes, whether wired or wireless.
Measuring portions of the Internet on a large scale is essential for accurate characterisations of performance over time and geography, for network diagnostic investigations by providers and their users, and for collecting information to support public policy development. The goal is to have the measurements (made using the same metrics and mechanisms) for a large number of points on the Internet, and to have the results collected and stored in the same form.
Other activities related to standardisation
Thematic working group utility and government services from European Commission Joint Research Centre set out on 2013 “Data Specification on Utility and Government Services — Technical Guidelines”, a “non-paper” document.
- A “Broadband and infrastructure mapping study” contracted by the European Commission.
“Study on Fixed and Mobile Convergence in Europe”
The project is expected to facilitate the identification of key elements to define a common European standard to measure network performance taking into account on-going international standardisation activities for network performance measurements with a view to align European and international efforts in this domain while ensuring the involved of relevant stakeholders.
In the context of standards-based infrastructure mapping, a European project VIRGO (Virtual Registry of the Ground Infrastructure) began in 2014 with a focus on mapping cloud computing. It is coordinated by Infratel Italia which is active in broadband mapping in Italy.
ECC Report 195
The Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) drafted Report 195, ´Minimum Set of Quality of Service Parameters and Measurement Methods for Retail Internet Access Services´.
ECC recommendation (15)03, ´Provision of Comparable Information on Retail Internet Access Service Quality´.
The ITU-T reference guide G.1011: ITU-T has a suitable recommendation for the QoS of different types of most important services in its reference guide G.1011, Table 9-1.
ITU-T interactive transmission maps of backbone broadband connections worldwide. The scope of this ITU project is to research, process and create maps of core transmission networks (optical fibres, microwaves, submarine cables and satellite links) for the following ITU regions: Arab region, CIS region, the EUR region, the Asia-Pacific region, the North America region, Latin America and the Caribbean region, and the Africa region.
15 COM (2015) 192 final A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe
16 COM (2016)587 final Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – Towards a European Gigabit Society
17 FINAL REPORT PUBLISHED: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/study-fixed-and-mobile-convergence-europe-2017