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Telecommunications Networks


adopted on 7 January 1998


  1. Introduction
  2. Context of the action
  3. Objectives and priorities
  4. Projects of Common Interest
    1. Trans-European Generic Telecommunications Services
    2. Trans-European Telecommunications Applications
    3. Trans-European Telecommunications Basic Networks
  5. Support actions
  6. Organisation of calls for proposals
  7. Third countries participation
  8. Annex I : TEN-Telecom project structure and Community aid
  9. Glossary

I. Introduction

The Community action to develop trans-European telecommunications networks (hereafter TEN-Telecom) forms an important part of the EU policy action to support the emergence of the information society. By stimulating investment in the launch of new multimedia applications and generic services in the areas of public interest and by supporting the strategic development of global networks which will deliver such services, TEN-Telecom aims at sustaining the efforts of the private and public sectors to broaden the markets, reduce the gap between information haves and haves-not, and create the conditions of better access to and use of information.

This document establishes the TEN-Telecom work programme for the next 3 years (1998-2000) and specifies the projects of common interest identified in the Annex 1 of the TEN-Telecom guidelines (1), hereinafter referred as the guidelines. The work programme is a rolling plan which may be revised in the light of the evolving needs and the rapid development of the information society. It has been defined after a consultation of the industry.

The guidelines and this work programme shall be the basis for the establishment by the Commission of regular calls for proposals and the subsequent selection of projects of common interest. Each call will make an explicit reference to the project profiles in which proposals will be considered.

The following major topics are addressed by the work programme:

The goal is to select each year significant and well focused projects of common interest of a trans-European nature, based on sound partnerships of private and/or public actors, and providing examples of the combination of market forces and public support in the implementation of an information society for all. These projects shall follow the objectives and priorities as presented in section III.

II. Context of the Action

The legal basis refers to title XII of the EC Treaty (articles 129B, C and D) which provide an instrument for supporting the development of trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and telecommunication infrastructures. The implementation of trans-European telecommunications networks in Europe is seen as an essential condition for the operation of the internal market, the strengthening of economic and social cohesion in the Union, and the establishment of the information society in Europe.

The Council Regulation (EC) No 2236/95 of 18 September 1995 (2), (hereafter TEN financial regulation) lays down general rules for the granting of Community aid in the field of trans-European networks. In article 2, it sets out the conditions for project eligibility, and in articles 4 & 5 the mechanisms and conditions for Community financial intervention.

The Council and Parliament decision on a series of guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks was adopted on June 17, 1997. These guidelines, complete those previously adopted concerning the development of Euro-ISDN (3), and extend the scope of the Community action in the context of the information society.

The TEN-Telecom guidelines approach is developed at three levels, either considered independently or jointly: the level of applications, offering users dedicated information and communication technologies solutions, the level of generic services, providing common tools for interoperability and security of the applications, and the level of the basic networks which represents the infrastructure elements (transport, switching, management and signalling elements of networks) and will ensure trans-European interconnectivity.

The present document for the establishment of a multi-annual work programme is based on the provisions set out in the TEN-Telecom guidelines and in the TEN financial regulation.

III. Objectives and Priorities

The objectives of the TEN-Telecom guidelines are:

The following project priorities are pursued:

IV. Projects of Common Interest

Annex I of the guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks identifies 19 projects of common interest according to a three layer model which covers the applications (12), the generic services (3) and the basic networks (4).

Interoperable generic services which are increasingly provided over the Internet and support the common requirements of applications, are at the core of the TEN-Telecom action. Applications allow to broaden the telecommunications market in the areas of public interest and to establish reliable cooperation between industrial and sectoral partners. The approach towards the basic networks is to support the strategic development of global networks, able to deliver high quality interactive multimedia services to users.

This section of the work programme specifies the projects of common interest identified in Annex I of the guidelines, taking into account the specification criteria of Annex II, as follows.

1. Trans-European Generic Telecommunications Services

(Covers the 3 projects of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines in this area.)

Generic services are services which are common to a number of applications and to different industry sectors. Their role is to simplify application development by providing services which otherwise would need to be developed specifically for each application.

Generic services will increasingly be provided over the Internet. Internet will also be the platform of choice for electronic commerce. The priority of TEN-Telecom will therefore be to improve the quality of Internet based services in the EU and to extend the service offered both geographically and functionally. A main focus will be on interoperability in order to ensure a healthy competition among service providers and terminal vendors.

Projects of common interest for generic services are specified as follows:

1.1. Internet based Generic Services

Services provided over the Internet suffer from low availability and reliability, bad response times and lack of multi-lingual content. The following projects could significantly increase the quality and the use of Internet based services in the EU:

1.2. Electronic Commerce Support Services

In addition to good quality, electronic commerce requires a number of support services available at EU level. Of particular importance are:

1.3. Multi-media Support Services

Increasingly, generic services need to support multi-media content. The networking technologies required to support multi-media services are becoming widely available. The development of new generic services based on multimedia content (e.g. voice over Internet, video-conferencing, electronic product catalogues, interactive product demonstrations) is encouraged.

1.4. Support of Mobility

There is an increasing need for users to be able to access information services from a variety of different locations or even while travelling. Projects developing facilities for open access to generic services via different service providers, possibly based in different Member States will be a priority.

2. Trans-European Telecommunications Applications

(Covers the 12 projects of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines in this area.)

2.1. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for Education and Training

(Covers the project of common interest of Annex I related to distance education and training.)

National education and training sectors are experiencing a radical move towards the use of information and communication technologies in the learning and training process, mainly based on the accelerating development of the Internet. However, such process remains on a national basis and it proves difficult to elaborate an integrated multimedia product to be provided at European level.

The objective is then to encourage the access to multimedia tools by schools and universities, by promoting the commercial deployment of educational and training services and encouraging Community-wide application of multimedia pedagogical practices and products. The European dimension of the education and training process could be reinforced by the commercial deployment of :

2.2. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for Access to Europe's Cultural Heritage

(Covers the projects of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines related to cultural and linguistic heritage, and the library services.)

Europe's museums and galleries hold the richest collection of objects, art and cultural wealth anywhere in the world, but much is not accessible to scholars and the public for various reasons such as lack of space, cost of travel, mobility problems and preservation issues. The development of a trans-European framework for electronic network access to museums and galleries is therefore of enormous cultural and commercial importance. A similar approach applies to libraries and contemporary cultural creation.

The Memorandum of Understanding on multimedia access to Europe's cultural heritage, which sector actors signed in June 1996, is a forum that creates the conditions for a coherent and balanced development of a multimedia cultural services market. It covers cooperation in the following areas: identification and description of standards enabling interoperability across different systems, identification of potential markets, awareness and stimulation, ownership and protection of intellectual property rights.

Initiatives should be launched to foster the access to the European cultural heritage by:

Trans-European advanced network for libraries should also be deployed to provide effective access to both the pool of organised knowledge and the cultural wealth held in the libraries across the Community, in support of the economic, social, educational and cultural life of the Community.

2.3. Trans-European Telecommunications Applications and Services for SMEs

(Covers projects of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines concerning telematic services for SMEs and electronic tendering of.)

In the light of increasing global competition, many SMEs internationalise their strategies and innovate. Capabilities for marketing, trade, and doing business should be offered in a trans-European framework which will ensure inter-operability, security and confidentiality. Internet based generic services are increasingly important components to enable SMEs to participate to electronic business development and group more services.

Projects of common interest will support the use of trans-European telecommunications applications and services by Community SMEs, with links to public authorities, trade associations, consumers, customers and suppliers. Such areas include:

2.4. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for Transport and Mobility

(Covers the project of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines related to transport telematics.)

The transportation sector is heavily reliant on telecommunications services. The sector's requirements are complex and often trans-European in character, making it a target customer base for new telecommunications applications and services. The provision of transport information data enriched with general or custom-tailored information services to the travelling individual citizen on a real time basis will considerably enhance the quality of life and help optimising travelling and leisure activities.

In the area of transport, full advantage has to be taken of trans-European telecommunications networks:

The deployment of all these services will be based on global/regional telecommunications infrastructures networks of fixed, mobile and satellite components and should exploit synergies between communication components and global positioning and navigation systems. It should also satisfy, wherever applicable, the necessary complementarity with and the interoperability of the trans-European transport networks.

2.5. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for the Environment and Emergency Management

(Covers the projects of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines related telematics for the environment.)

Trans-European telecommunications networks can make an important contribution to the monitoring and the management of the environment, including emergency management.

There is a growing demand for environmental information services on the part of environmental managers in both, public administrations and private enterprises to comply with existing and emerging national and European policies and directives. For environmental information systems, improved information access to heterogeneous data and information using standard protocols and media-information and communication through a range of networks (ISDN, PSDN, Internet, etc.) are common requirements for a large range of services. Environmental information services should normally include information of various environmental topics (such as air, water, soil, bio-diversity) and may be embedded in strategic information systems (e.g. socio-economic information).

For global emergency management systems, reliable communication systems and networks (mobile, satellite, radio, etc..), accurate positioning systems of resources form the essential telematics back-bone for real-time decision aid in crisis situations. Remote sensing applications utilising space borne and terrestrial data and information are also underway to become in the near future mature, fully operational and economic feasible developments which will play a more prominent role in environmental emergency management, and also in environmental monitoring and information systems.Environmental emergency applications should be addressed, such as flood management systems for urban areas, rivers and estuaries, and telematics systems to fight forest fires and industrial risks.

2.6. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for Health

(Covers the project of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines related to health telematics.)

The health care sector is characterised by an increasing specialisation between the parties: hospitals, either public or private, practitioners, pharmacies, social insurance's... which generate an intensive structured communication flow. A major driving force behind the development of telematics for health is to manage more efficiently the health care delivery process, while providing more user orientated applications and integrated solutions in such areas as continuity of care, patient records, regional health care networks and health information to the citizen.

Major focus in the care process should be on the following segments:

2.7. Trans-European Telecommunications City and Regional Information Networks

(Covers the projects of common interest concerning city information highway of Annex I of the guidelines, as well as the integration of projects of common interest in areas of particular importance, as defined in point 4 of this annex.)

Cities and their surrounding areas are extremely important in providing the real life environment for the development of information society applications. In a number of cases they already have historically strong private/public partnerships for the provision of public services and challenging experiments are taking place which involve the integration of public and commercial services. There is also a growing awareness amongst local and regional authorities of the importance of telecommunications networks for the economic and social life in their area and the advantages its use can offer.

Networks and services should be promoted interconnecting households, businesses, social organisations and administrations and providing an integrated set of on-line multimedia cross-sectoral applications and services in the various areas of collective interest. It is expected that this integrated approach will stimulate a significant user base, and that strong European public-private partnerships, involving cities and other regional administrations, user representations, local/regional operators, content providers, and telecom operators will form the basis of consortium.

Applications demonstrating the possibilities of affordable and sustainable citizens access to services of collective interest should be set up. Examples might include the creation of one-stop shopping point to communicate with public administrations and civic service providers and the use of smart cards. Special requirements should be taken into account for the benefit of disabled people. Because of the interlinked nature of the citizen's differing requirements, applications will be based on interoperable generic services, increasingly using Internet/Intranet facilities.

Simultaneous implementation in different cities, common testing and validation of new services shall allow cross-fertilisation and exchange of best practices among the project promoters.

2.8. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for New Work Methods

(Covers the project of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines related to teleworking and services for the job market.)

Flexibility both in time and space through a variety of forms of telework and other new work methods in the public and private sectors can make a major contribution to realising the benefits of a rapid transition to the information society : flexibility in and support to the creation of employment, business competitiveness, satisfaction of social needs and improvement of the quality of life. However the operational obstacles to trans-border telework within the European Union are still numerous, such as appropriate provision for data protection, insurance, social security, health or safety at work.

The objective of projects of common interest in this area should be to stimulate the deployment of new work methods for a large number of businesses and other organisations within a sound technical, operational and legal framework.

Projects are expected to support European networks of call centres/service centres offering employment near home in both urban and rural areas; European networks of business centres offering teleworking facilities to business travellers; and new work organisation for European SMEs with a dispersed work-force, with appropriate provisions for data protection, insurance, social security, health and safety at work.

Multi-media access will be insured through the appropriate set of interconnected networks and interoperable services.

Special attention should be paid to consulting and taking into account the social consequences of these applications.

Network services such as job information databases will be developed to support the changing labour market in the Community, to help tackle unemployment and the integration of disabled people into labour market.

2.9. Trans-European Telecommunications Networks for the Research

(Covers the project of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines related to networks for universities and research centres.)

Electronic networks have become an indispensable instrument of a researcher's daily work, for the easy access and dissemination of the information. The research community must be able to enjoy real-time interactive multimedia applications to provide collaborative working facilities and share of high level resources. The TEN-34 project, supported under the 4th Framework Programme, is a landmark project in this respect, providing advanced networking services to researchers, and addressing the Europe's problem of poor trans-national interconnectivity with the establishment of 34 Megabit links between national research networks.

Research and Development on trans-European telematic research networks remains a priority in the 5th Framework Programme proposal (COM97 (142) final). In the context of the TEN-Telecom work programme, the issue of interconnection and peering agreements between the research networks and the commercial Internet service networks could be addressed, as part of the studies undertaken in the framework of generic services, as described in p. 6 of this document.

3. Trans-European Telecommunications Basic Networks

(Covers the 4 projects of common interest of Annex 1 of the guidelines in this area.)

New requirements emerging from the information society are demanding high performance access and backbone infrastructures. TEN-Telecomís approach will encourage and lay the basis for the introduction of high quality multimedia services for end-users and to support the gradual introduction and interoperation of integrated broadband communications (IBC) networks.

3.1. Euro-Integrated Services Digital Network (Euro - ISDN)

(Covers the first project of common interest of Annex I of the guidelines in this area.)

The market penetration of ISDN is increasing rapidly and, with the Euro-ISDN set of standards, Europe has achieved a leadership position, both on the switching and terminal markets and as far as service offering is concerned. The full potential of ISDN however is not yet achieved and many services and applications could benefit from the Euro-ISDN infrastructure. Support actions and projects will encourage the further interconnection and effective interoperability of Euro-ISDN services, with a special attention to the development of Euro-ISDN services in Eastern European and non-EU Mediterranean countries, that may be supported by other financing measures.

3.2. Development and Interoperation of Broadband Networks

(Covers the second, third and fourth projects of common interest of Annex 1 of the guidelines in this area.)

3.2.1. Satellite Networks

Satellite-based infrastructures will increasingly meet key user requirements such as personal mobility, access to high speed Internet for multimedia services, and global connectivity. The EU Action Plan on satellite communications in the information society calls for reinforcing market perspective and industry coordination in the satellite communications sector. TEN-Telecom will support the deployment of multimedia satellite systems, services and applications, along the following lines:

Building on the strengths of the satellite television markets in Europe, satellite systems are well placed to support some of the development in the field of multimedia, in particular high-speed Internet-type services.

This action will concern interactive and broadcast multimedia applications and services, using asymmetric or symmetric services. It should stimulate a creative set of applications with a high socio-economic value with a business potential in a competitive environment. It should stimulate the involvement of a range of actors of the value chain (application developers, content providers, service and network providers, terminal equipment suppliers, financing bodies, etc.) committed to becoming global players.

"Application specific" technology should be avoided and reliance on existing and future European and international standards will be ensured.

The validation should lead to a proper assessment of the value of the service, including analyses of investment expenditures and operating costs, user acceptance and forecasted revenues, break-even points as well as financing means. There should be a clear commitment to proceed with deployment and commercial offering provided the validation meets proposed targets.

The validation should encompass a wide range of countries within the Community. Further expansion in Eastern countries and the non-EU Mediterranean area is advisable (companies established outside the Community can not be funded by TEN-telecom, other sources of funding need to be investigated in these cases).

As a preliminary action, cost-shared surveys identifying target market segments and industry sectors for satellite multimedia services will be opened in 1998. These studies should define business and private use application scenarios, investigate the users requirements and generate traffic patterns of use for the services. The surveys should develop a quantitative market model to assess subscriber base, equipment sales and volume of demand.

The survey could cover the Community as well as Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Satellites systems have been designed primarily to handle television broadcasting or to act as a communication backbone. The interoperation of the multimedia communication satellites systems with the terrestrial infrastructure raises new issues in traffic modelling, and system and network management.

Studies, simulation designs and pilot implementations need to be undertaken. Traffic models for the most common interactive services should be developed taking into account the likely mixed satellite/terrestrial infrastructures (e.g. return channels). Development of simulation tools should be developed to assess the impact of the various combined traffic patterns on different infrastructures and to evaluate the different space technologies.

Concepts and tools need also to be developed to manage and configure the mixed satellites/terrestrial environment, to monitor the status and the performance of the global information infrastructure and its major subsystems, and to provide support services such as integrated billing. These models and tools should be able to provide guidelines for the management of available satellite capacity, the provision of adequate quality of service and tariff structure and to promote the use of the economically most appropriate network technology for a given application.

3.2.2. mobile networks

The rapid penetration of mobile telecommunications offers new opportunities for multimedia services and applications.

Projects of common interest in this area should support the commercial validation of advanced and innovative mobile services and applications (very high data communications, Internet/Intranet applications, mobile video,..). These services should be delivered on a range of wireless access technologies and networks based on open standards such as GSM and DECT and appropriate interface with the fixed broadband environment.

3.2.3. Global Network Development and Interoperation

An increasing number of fixed, satellite and mobile networking technologies are becoming available and it is unlikely that a single one will emerge as the universal solution. ATM is at an early stage of deployment as the backbone of broadband networks. A number of technologies have been developed for network access (e.g. xDSL, cable modems). On the other hand, the Internet Protocol has emerged as the dominant networking protocol for multimedia services.

Interconnection and interoperation of the variety of networking technologies is therefore the only means to create an effective trans-European networking infrastructure. Projects of common interest will encourage the effective use of networking protocols, such as IP, over a variety of networking technologies such as ISDN, ATM, SMDS, Frame Relay, and others. They will also support the interconnection and interoperation between the various core and access technologies. This includes also the interworking between narrowband and broadband technologies.

V. Support and Coordination Actions

In addition to its support for projects of common interest, the Community will launch actions helping to prepare, support and disseminate their outcomes. Actions designed to provide the appropriate environment to projects include:

Actions of the above type will be implemented through rolling calls for proposals, and could be financed up to 100% of their cost, where necessary. Measures in favour of third countries will come from other sources than the TEN-Telecom budget.

VI. Organisation of Calls for Proposals

Following the adoption of this work programme, calls for proposals will be published regularly related to projects of common interest as specified above. In addition projects which are considered of particular importance for the development of the information society according to paragraph 4 of Annex 1 of the TEN-Telecom guidelines will be included in calls at least once a year.

Calls will be organised within the following framework :

VII. Third Countries Participation

Article 13 of the TEN-Telecom guidelines provides for the authorisation of the participation of third countries in accordance with the procedure of Article 228 of the Treaty, basically making it very difficult in practice. TEN- Telecom projects may include partners outside the Union only as far as they participate as observers or sponsoring partners. The external partners cannot receive any TEN-Telecom funding.

However, it is the Commission's intention to investigate the extension of TEN-Telecom to CEECs, CIS and the Mediterranean through possible joint actions with the PHARE, TACIS and MEDA programmes, along the following lines:

In the above action lines, a separation should be made between associated countries-accession candidates, from other countries.


TEN-Telecom project structure and Community aid



Technical and operational terms


A system or service offering users dedicated solutions enabling access to information through telecommunications and information technologies.

Generic Service

A service, either conversational, messaging, retrieval or groupware, of direct usage for a large number of users, which provide common tools for development and implementation of applications, whilst aiding their interoperability.

Basic network

The telecommunication infrastructure that provides physical access, transport and connectivity.


The ability of two or more systems (devices, databases, services or technology) to interact with one another in accordance with a prescribed method.

Feasibility studies

All studies related to an application/service project aiming at evaluating its technical, economic and financial characteristics.

Application/service deployment

The construction and operation of the application to offer the services in a real life environment (generally in more than one country).

Financial terms

Interest rate subsidies Grants to reduce the interest costs of loans and their ancillary financial charges.

Guarantee fees contributions

Grants to reduce the premium costs of guarantees and their ancillary financial charges.


Direct subsidies used in combination with one of the two previous forms of aid when the latter prove to be insufficient to attain the level of aid considered necessary or if the two previous forms cannot be applied (may take the form of equity or reimbursable advances).

Potential economic viability

Refers to the general and long-term socio-economic net benefits of the project, rather than its mere financial profitability and economic profitability.

Economic profitability

Refers to the capacity of a project to generate net benefits for society at large, whether captured or not by the market, when those effects can be expressed in monetary terms. The Economic Rate of Return provides a view of this profitability which is based on monetary valued elements, and which has to be interpreted at the light of the remaining elements non quantifiable in monetary terms.

Financial profitability

Proportion on which the market value of the outputs derived from the project exceeds the market value of the inputs, where the latter comprises studies, investment costs and operating costs, thus allowing to reward the financial resources used in the process.

Financial rate of return

Is the discount rate that makes the future project related revenues or cash inflows just match total project related costs or cash outflows.

Socio-economic net benefits

Capacity of a project to generate net benefits for society at large, whether captured or not by the market, and quantifiable in monetary terms or not. It allows for the inclusion of qualitative factors in the final judgement of a project.

Economic rate of return

Discount rate at which the present value of the flow of net economic benefits generated by the project equals zero, this meaning that the expected future net economic benefits equals the expected present and future economic costs, starting with the initial investments ones.

Cost/benefit analysis

Appraisal approach that evaluates the socio-economic profitability of a project by weighting its monetary valued socio-economic benefits against its monetary valued costs.


An enterprise that satisfies the criteria laid down in the Commission Recommendation of April 3, 1996 concerning the definition of small and medium size enterprises ( OJ Nr L107 of 30.4.1996, p4 ):
  • has no more than 250 employees;
  • has annual turnover of no more than ECU 40 million;
  • is independent.

(1) OJ No L 183, 11.07.97, p. 12
(2) OJ No L 228, 23.09.95, p. 1
(3) OJ No L 282, 24.11.95, p. 16

TEN-Telecom Secretariat

European Commission 
Avenue de Beaulieu, 29 (office 7/30) 
B-1160 Brussels 
Tel. +32 2 2968995 
Fax. +32 2 2951071 
E.mail ten@bxl.dg13.cec.be

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