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Europe Confirms GBP8 Billion Investment in Superfast Broadband Deployment

Posted: 19th Oct, 2011 By: MarkJ
european union mapeuropean union flagThe European Commission (EC) has today officially confirmed an earlier report (here) that £8bn (€9.2bn) of its proposed €50bn pan-European Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for boosting Europe's infrastructure (e.g. transport, energy, digital) will go towards projects that bring superfast broadband internet access services to 100% of homes and businesses.

The funding of €9.2bn would complement private investment, public money (at a local, regional and national level) and take the form of both equity and debt instruments and grants. Funding would also be split, with €7bn going towards high-speed broadband infrastructure and the rest being used for digital services (e.g. electronic health records).

The effort itself is all part of Europe's Digital Agenda, which aims to ensure that all Europeans have access to "basic" and "competitively-priced" broadband ISPs by 2013 and superfast (30Mbps+) speeds by 2020; with 50% or more EU households subscribing to 100Mbps.

EU President, José Manuel Barroso, said:

"The Connecting Europe Facility and the Project Bond Initiative are a perfect demonstration of the value added that Europe can provide. These proposals will help to build the roads, railways, energy grids and pipelines, and broadband networks that are so important to our citizens and businesses. We are closing the missing links in Europe's infrastructure networks that otherwise would not be built. This investment will generate growth and jobs and at the same time make work and travel easier for millions of European citizens and businesses."

The EC anticipates that the new funding could leverage a total of up to €100 billion of public and private investment, which is still less than half the estimated €270 billion needed to meet its Digital Agenda targets. Member states will of course be committing their own funds too.

For example, the UK is investing £530m until 2015 (rising to £830m if needed by 2017) towards similar goals. The UK seeks to have the best broadband in Europe, although its immediate target is to bring superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps+ to 90% of "people in each local authority area" by 2015 (the rest will get at least 2Mbps).

The proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.
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