EU sets up new £420 broadband upgrade fund

The European Commission (EC) has announced plans for a new €500 million (around £420 million) fund to improve broadband across its member states. It’s called the Connection Europe Broadband Fund, and aims to help nations achieve 100Mb broadband for all.

The EC's current broadband plan - the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) - wants to ensure that everyone can get internet speeds of 30Mb or more by 2020. The UK is inching closer to this target, with more than 90% of premises now having access to fibre - but large parts of the country remain unconnected.

Even so, the EC and European Investment Bank wants to up the targets to push nations to achieve 100% broadband coverage with speeds of at least 100Mb by 2025. The fund should help this happen, but the EC has also suggested that it will need an investment of €500 billion - largely from private sources.

Obviously getting that extra cash will be challenging, but the EC is hoping plans to cut the amount of bureaucracy for infrastructure companies.

Günther H Oettinger, the EC commissioner for digital economy and society, said: "I am grateful to our financial partners for the establishment of this broadband Fund. It is an important development for smart and efficient funding of broadband projects, especially in underserved areas, in line with the spirit and the letter of the Investment Plan. It is a great step towards a European Gigabit Society for all."

The big question for us though is will the UK benefit from the broadband cash? The answer - as with most Brexit-related questions - is that we don't know. If the leaving process is underway by the time the fund kicks off proper, we're not likely to see any of it.

But the government has promised £400 million additional funding for improving the digital infrastructure in the UK, so it seems aware at least of the need to keep pace with the rest of the continent.

Source: ISPReview

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