EC quadruples broadband investment to €1.8b

The European Commission quadrupled its aid to member states to boost broadband deployments in 2010 to €1.8 billion, to help meet the goals of the Digital Agenda.
Investments in regions including Catalonia in Spain and Bavaria in Germany are among 20 funding decisions made last year that the Commission expects to generate €3.5 billion in private sector investment.
The Commission believes public funding is essential to drive broadband deployment throughout the region and prevent a digital divide opening up between urban and rural areas.
“Smart investments into high and very high speed broadband infrastructures are crucial to create jobs, increase economic performance and to unlock the competitive potential of the EU in the long term,” Joaquín Almunia, vice president of competition policy said.
The Commission’s Digital Agenda specifies that all homes should have access to basic broadband services by 2013, and high speed services by 2020.
Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes believes the market-driven approach is right for Europe, telling Telecoms that the state should only get involved if the market fails to deliver in an exclusive interview last month.
However, she has previously conceded the region has a long way to go to hit the agenda’s targets, after research found that just 29% of citizens had access to broadband services of 10Mbps or more by July 2010.