French to spend €4.5b on digital innovation

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has committed to a €4.5 billion investment in high-speed broadband and innovative digital services as part of a € 35 billion bond issue known as the "grand emprunt" to stimulate the economy.

“Today, we must prepare France for the challenges of tomorrow so that our country can fully benefit from the recovery, so that it is
stronger, more competitive, so that it creates more jobs," Sarkozy said.

Higher education, training, research, industry and small businesses will be the key target areas. Details of how the funds will be
allocated have yet to be unveiled, but the government will devote €2 billion to enable 70% of the population to have access to at least 100 Mpbs services within the next 10 years.

Sarkozy expects that private operators will invest twice as much as the State.

"It is a matter of doing for very high-speed services what was done for fixed telephony in the 1970s," he said.