Broadband received a boost last month with the news that the European Commission has taken an important step that will make more money available for investment in strategic infrastructure, including digital infrastructure projects like FTTH.
The Investment Plan for Europe will mobilise public and private investments of at least €315 billion over the next three years (2015-2017). In May, European legislators reached political agreement on a Regulation to establish the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which means it should be operational by September as planned.
“When the fund becomes operational at the end of the summer, it will create a wonderful opportunity for fibre access projects to get financing for deploying FTTH,” said Edgar Aker, President of the FTTH Council Europe.
FTTH could play an important role in helping Europe meet its Digital Agenda targets, which require 30 Mbps broadband speeds for all Europe’s citizens and at least half of subscribers taking connections at 100 Mbps or faster by 2020. Progress on the second of these targets has been slow, and some reports cast doubt that it is achievable, especially with only five years remaining. The availability of new sources of investment could dramatically change the situation.
The EFSI is being created in close partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has considerable experience in managing investments in broadband and FTTH infrastructure projects. Previous EIB investments in FTTH include Iliad in France, Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Jazztel in Spain, and Reggefiber in the Netherlands.