European politicians reached a provisional agreement on the proposed Gigabit Infrastructure Act (GIA), legislation intended to speed the deployment of next-generation communications networks in the bloc.

A deal between the European Council and Parliament comes two months after the European Commission (EC) issued a set of proposals intended to fast-track rollout of 5G and fibre, and lower the costs associated with building the necessary infrastructure.

The legislation will replace a broadband cost-cutting directive in place since 2014.

In a joint statement, the European authorities noted the deal “maintains the general thrust of the Commission’s proposal”, with some elements amended. 

Those elements include the introduction of a mandatory “conciliation mechanism” between the public sector and operators to improve infrastructure planning permission procedures.

The authorities also gave smaller European municipalities more time to provide information related to joint access of existing physical infrastructure, as well as the adoption of “specific provisions” promoting connectivity in remote areas. 

Further, the EC and Parliament will extend price caps due to expire in May for intra-EU calls and messaging services. 

The agreed proposal is set for review by both institutions and would enter into force 20 days after the act is published in the European Union’s (EU) official journal. The new law will apply 18 months after its entry into force, with some specific provisions applied at a later stage.

Some clauses under the draft GIA proposal have been criticised by telecoms associations in Europe, particularly those linked to permission procedures and the potential abolishment of intra-EU communications surcharges.