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02 February 2009

EU: €1bn for investment in broadband

The European Commission aims to achieve 100 % high-speed internet coverage for all citizens by 2010 as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan (IP/08/1771, MEMO/08/735). € 1 billion has been earmarked today to help rural areas get online, bring new jobs and help businesses grow. On average, 93 % of Europeans can enjoy a high speed online connection but in some countries broadband covers less than half of the rural population (see the table in the annex). Broadband internet connection is expected to create 1 million jobs and boost the EU's economy by €850 billion between 2006 and 2015.

How can investment in broadband infrastructures stimulate Europe's economic recovery?

Investment in broadband has a positive impact on economic development, innovation and territorial cohesion. A recent study shows that, assuming a constant adoption rate up to 2015, broadband development will help create around 1 million jobs in Europe and a broadband-related growth of economic activity of € 850 bn between 2006 and 2015[1].

In areas with a lack of infrastructure, such as less populated areas or remote and isolated rural areas, increased spending on new telecom infrastructure boosts the productivity and employment potential of the local economy. Development and adoption of advanced broadband services help make businesses and public administration more efficient by enabling organisational innovation and facilitating access to markets. The impact on European industry is clearly positive: apart from civil work for networks which has a direct impact on local employment, sales of network equipment will also benefit global European suppliers (like Siemens, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent), as well as telecoms or satellite operators. And areas with advanced broadband connections will see an increase in demand for products and services.

What is the current state of broadband coverage and speed in Europe?

Why is it necessary to spend EU money on broadband investment? Could this not be better done by each Member State?

Which regions in Europe are in a particular need of broadband investment?

How will the €1 bn of EU money reach rural areas with a particular need for broadband investments?

The European Council in December asked the Commission to specify concrete projects for investing the €5 bn for infrastructure? Is there such a central list for broadband projects?

What is the next step? Can the money now be paid out or do Parliament and Council first have to give their agreement? How long will it take until the first payments are made?

How will each Member State apply for this extra funding?

What will be the distribution of funding among the Member States?

Which is the co-financing rate of a broadband project within Rural Development?

What are the types of measures related to broadband that can be supported through Rural Development?

Where can I find the contact details of Rural Development Authorities for my Member State?

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