Brussels, 20 November 2012
State aid: Commission clears support scheme for next generation broadband networks in Bavaria, Germany
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a €2 billion support scheme aimed at promoting the development of next generation access (NGA) broadband networks in currently underserved areas of the German region of Bavaria. The Commission found the scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it ensures that support is granted only in areas where no commercial NGA network rollout is foreseen in the near future. This will avoid the crowding out of private investments.
Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia, in charge of competition policy, said: "The Bavarian broadband support scheme contributes to the objectives of the EU Digital Agenda while limiting distortions of competition by supporting only networks that are open to all operators on a non-discriminatory basis. This should enable healthy competition on the subsidised networks, allowing local businesses and users to benefit from significantly enhanced broadband services at competitive prices".
In June 2012, Germany notified plans for supporting an NGA broadband scheme providing for download speeds of at least 50 Mbps in commercial and accumulation areas of Bavaria.
The Commission found the scheme to be in line with its guidelines on state aid for broadband (see IP/09/1332 and MEMO/09/396). In particular, no support may be granted in areas where a commercial NGA network roll-out is foreseen in the near future. Moreover, the scheme has a high degree of transparency, as all key information on projects will be systematically posted on a central website. This should allow stakeholders to be continuously informed on any project under the scheme. Also, the German telecommunications regulator (the Bundesnetzagentur) will be consulted on key aspects of projects, such as wholesale access prices and conditions. This will further contribute to compliance with the competition rules. Finally, Germany will conduct a detailed monitoring of all cases supported under the scheme.
The Digital Agenda is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which underlines the importance of broadband deployment to promote social inclusion and competitiveness in the EU. It seeks to ensure that, by 2020, all Europeans have access to internet speeds above 30 Mbps, while at least 50% of European households should subscribe to internet connections above 100 Mbps (see IP/10/581 and MEMO/10/199).
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.35000 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.