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Brussels, 20 September 2010

Digital Agenda: Commission spells out plan to boost investment in broadband

The European Commission has today outlined how best to encourage private and public investment in fast and ultra-fast broadband networks. These will be essential to realising the commitments in the Digital Agenda for Europe to give every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra-fast broadband by 2020 (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). In its Communication, the Commission calls on EU Member States to introduce operational broadband plans for high and ultra high speed networks with concrete implementing measures, it provides guidance on how to cut investment costs and indicates how public authorities may support broadband investment, including making better use of EU funds. It also announces plans by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to bring forward broadband finance instruments. The Communication forms part of a package of broadband measures presented by the Commission today (see IP/10/1142).

Bringing the high speeds to all parts of Europe will require substantial investment and enhance infrastructure competition. The Communication adopted by the Commission today outlines the policy and practical steps the Commission and Member States can take to trigger the €180 to € 270 billion of investment required to bring fast broadband to all households by 2020.

To achieve this, the Commission:

  • Asks all Member States to adopt an operational broadband plan with concrete implementing measures including provisions for the necessary funding. Although many EU Member States already have a national broadband strategy, the Commission is calling on all Member State to ensure that they have fully operational plans for ultra-high speed networks with concrete implementing measures to achieve their targets

  • Encourages Regional and Local Authorities to promote investment by reducing costs. It is estimated that around 80% of the costs of deploying new infrastructure are civil engineering costs and these can be greatly reduced by town planning and coordination measures and setting the right regulatory environment

  • Announces plans by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to bring forward broadband finance instruments. Concrete proposals for new instruments will be unveiled by spring 2011. The European Investment Bank (EIB) already lends an average of €2bn each year to economically viable broadband projects. Recent beneficiaries have for instance included the French broadband operator Iliad, the Finnish operator DNA and the Portuguese operator Zon. The EIB's involvement in broadband financing is planned to increase as the Bank re-focuses its lending strategy on the Europe 2020 priorities. The EIB involvement will have a catalytic effect on other banks bringing in more funds for broadband and could underpin gross investment up to 15 times greater than the EIB's initial contribution.

  • Promotes direct investment in infrastructure by public authorities in line with state aid rules (see IP/09/1332).

  • Stimulates the roll-out of broadband through better use of the EU's structural and rural development funds.

  • Aims to accelerate the deployment of wireless technologies which offer broadband connections even faster than the Digital Agenda's target speed of 30Mbps speed and are cheaper than fixed line connections. To help accelerate this process, the Commission has adopted a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (see MEMO/10/425) jointly with the Broadband Communication.


The Europe 2020 Strategy has underlined the importance of broadband deployment to promote social inclusion and competitiveness in the EU (see IP/10/225). It restated the objective to bring basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and seeks to ensure that, by 2020 all Europeans have access to much higher internet speeds of above 30 Mbps and 50% or more of European households subscribe to internet connections above 100 Mbps.

To reach these ambitious targets, the Digital Agenda for Europe called for a comprehensive policy, based on a mix of technologies, focusing on two parallel goals: on the one hand, to guarantee universal broadband coverage (combining fixed and wireless) with internet speeds gradually increasing up to 30 Mbps and above and over time to foster the deployment and take-up of next generation access networks (NGA) in a large part of the EU territory, allowing ultra fast internet connections above 100 Mbps.

See also MEMO/10/426.

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