New European broadband fund to invest in up to 12 projects a year

Europe, broadband

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank have unveiled details of a broadband fund trailed as part of its Electronic Communications Code.

The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF) will launch “in mid-2017” with a remit to invest in broadband network infrastructure across underserved areas of Europe over the following five years.

The Commission said it expected the CEBF to invest in seven to 12 broadband projects each year from 2017 to 2021, and to have invested in 20 countries by 2021.

Investment firm Cube Infrastructure Managers has been chosen as the fund manager and will identify the projects and make the investments.

The CEBF is forecast to raise “at least €500 million at first closing” through commitments from private and public investors.

The Commission has committed to investing €100 million from the existing Connecting Europe Facility.

Germany’s KfW Bankengruppe, Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and France’s Caisse des dépôts et consignations are the fund’s anchor investors, the Commission revealed.

Overall, the CEBF is expected to unlock additional investments between €1 billion and €1.7 billion in broadband deployment, according to the Commission.

In September, Brussels said €500 billion would be required to reach its connectivity targets – providing key public sector organisations with 1GBps and all European households with download speeds of at least 100MBps – by 2025.

Günther H. Oettinger, 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."

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