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EU publishes whitepaper building digital infrastructure of the future



With rumours swirling earlier this week that the Commission was due to publish its proposals for enhanced digital infrastructure the 40-page page document details 3 main pillars of opportunity.

The first is creating the ‘3C Network’ (Connected Collaborative Computing). With the advancement of on-device edge technology, there will be greater capacity demands, especially those equipped with AI processors. This will require intelligent network orchestration, that also enables optimisation for security with sustainability in mind.

“We need to ensure that these innovations are implemented in the EU and safeguard our economic security and prosperity. In particular, it is of key importance that EU industry has sufficient technology capacity in key parts of the digital supply chain and is able to reap economic benefits in the most attractive parts of the digital value chain,” stated the report.

“The goal is to foster a vibrant community of European innovators, creating the “Connected Collaborative Computing” Network (“3C Network”), an ecosystem that spans semiconductors, computational capacity in all kinds of edge and cloud environments, radio technologies, to connectivity infrastructure, data management, and applications.”

The second pillar is to complete the digital single market. While a regulatory framework already exists to facilitate investment in high-capacity networks with legal provisions across regulation and spectrum management it has not yielded satisfactory results.

As result of this and the convergence of electronic communications and the cloud, “a rethinking of the scope of application of the electronic communications regulatory framework could be considered,” stated the report.

There could be benefit of developing pan-European core network operators, maximising the same economies of scale of cloud providers.

Aside from regulatory issues, there are barriers to creating a true Digital Single Market such as “different obligations across the EU with regard to network/service incident reporting or security vetting requirements, building lawful interception capabilities, data retention regimes, privacy and reshoring requirements or cybersecurity and reporting obligations”.

The third pillar is fostering secure and resilient digital infrastructures across Europe, this includes using quantum and post-quantum technologies and a particular focus on security and resilience of subsea cables.

The document states that structural measures need to be considered that have a focus on the reinforcement of advanced research & innovation activities.

Commenting on this, Ciaran Delaney, COO at Exa Infrastructure said, “Submarine cables are like the internet’s main arteries, carrying data around the world, so it’s only natural that the EU Commission is looking at ways to secure these vital pieces of infrastructure.

“Private investment is flowing into the subsea industry all the time to create more diverse paths from A to B and provide resiliency should a specific cable be damaged, but any legislative support to make upgrading and securing network infrastructure easier is welcomed.

“While it is right to consider the possibility of deliberate sabotage, it is important to remember that submarine cables are most often damaged by accident when a ship drags its anchor along the seabed for example, so any policy or funding support should also take this into account.”

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