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Europe Approve Weakened Broadband Infrastructure Investment for 100Mb+

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 (2:55 pm) - Score 1,068

The European Parliament has today approved a €1bn (£820m) Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) investment package, which aims to support pan-European digital projects. But only 15% has been earmarked to support broadband projects of which at least one third will aim at speeds of 100Mbps+.

The CEF was originally proposed alongside a budget of €9.2bn for digital services (i.e. telecoms and broadband infrastructure investment), although last year’s decision to cut the EU’s seven-year budget by 3% to around £768bn (2014 to 2020) resulted in nearly all of that extra funding being wiped out and slashed to €1bn (here).

The move meant that Europe’s key Digital Agenda strategy, which aims to ensure that superfast broadband (30Mbps+) services are made available to 100% of Europeans by 2020 (with 50% also gaining access to speeds of 100Mbps+), would have to rely more on individual state investment, regulation changes and other initiatives to achieve its goals.

At the time Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission’s (EC) Digital Agenda Project, said she was “disappointed that Member States could not agree on our proposal” and warned that the remaining money “does not leave room for investing in broadband networks“. But thankfully at least some of what is left will now go towards broadband infrastructure after all.

Neelie Kroes said:

Digital infrastructure matters for the whole economy. So today’s vote is not just about telecoms and internet, it’s about giving every sector what they need to compete or deliver public services.

Coming on top of political agreement on our e-Identification regulation and proposals to reduce the cost of broadband rollout, this is a great week for Europe’s Digital Agenda. I want to thank Mr Tošenovský and the shadow rapporteurs for their strong cooperation here. These investments will help transform Europe.”

In short, most of the budget will still go towards digital services such as pan-European platforms and seamless cross-border public services like eProcurement, eHealth or Open Data. However 15% has been earmarked to support broadband, projects of which at least one third shall aim at speeds of 100Mbps or above.

Naturally 15% of £820m might sound like quite a lot but it’s less impressive once split up for use by multiple EU member states and is unlikely to have much of an impact in the United Kingdom, beyond existing plans. But having said that Europe has already put a lot of investment into broadband over this side of the channel and now there is scope for that to continue.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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