It has been one year since the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) took the plunge by opening new funding opportunities for digital projects across under-served areas -mostly rural- of the European Union along with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the private sector. Finally, last month a funding plan was announced by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to fund and set up a new groundbreaking broadband platform. The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund will be the first investment platform to support broadband infrastructure under the EFSI.
EIB President Werner Hoyer has said that “High-speed internet is fundamental to the success and development of businesses. Until today, smaller-scale broadband projects did not have easy access to funding and EU financial instruments did not exist. Consequently, projects in less populated or rural areas, where purely private-led initiatives may not see the economic benefits of deploying broadband networks, were difficult to implement. The new fund will help bridge this market gap”.
To date Cube Infrastructure Managers S.A., an investment company with vast experience and knowledge in infrastructure and ICT projects, has been selected as the approved applicant to manage the Fund. It would identify broadband projects and make investments according to the investment guidelines of the Fund during the whole five-year investment period of the Fund.
The new fund comes with a plan to invest in 20 countries between 7 to 12 projects every year around its operational launch in mid-2017 and 2021. It is also key to mention that the fund’s size investments will be between €1 million and €30 million, for projects representing a total cost of €150 million or less. This new platform is expected to unlock additional investments between €1 billion and €1.7 billion in broadband deployment in underserved areas, where very high-capacity networks are not deployed yet.
There is currently a huge digital gap between urban and rural areas. In 2013 only 25.1% of rural areas were covered by the Next Generation Access (NGA = at least 30 Mbps) compared to 68.1% in urban areas. This leads to a huge risk of social exclusion, halting access to jobs and growth. Thus, Euromontana welcomes every initiative that will help to close the existing digital gap.
For more information on the fund please visit: http://www.eib.org/infocentre/press/releases/all/2016/2016-334-commission-and-european-investment-bank-announce-a-fund-for-broadband-infrastructure-open-to-participation-of-national-promotional-banks-and-institutions-and-of-private-investors.htm
To learn more about the details of the plan go to: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-4351_en.htm7 February 2017