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Bridging the Gap Between Rural and Urban Areas

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It is clear that we still have a long way to go when it comes to bringing rural areas up to the same level of development as urban areas. Rural areas are left behind in the rush to make cities ready for the future. This is a shame because the concept of smart cities aims to improve the lives of citizens. It can’t afford to be regarded as a selfish movement which forgets smaller communities.

With that in mind, we are glad to hear that the European Commission is preparing to launch the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund, which will invest in broadband network infrastructure in underserved areas across Europe.

The fund is going be launched under the Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – Towards a European Gigabit Society strategy and is part of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) initiative and its launch will be an important step forward for the development of the high-capacity networks that Europe needs to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital economy and society.

As a Public Private Partnership between three National Promotional Banks and Institutions (NPBIs), the three anchor investors being KfW Bankengruppe from Germany, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti from Italy and Caisse des dépôts et consignations from France, the fund aims to raise at least €500 million at first closing through commitments from private and public investors, including the EIB and the European Commission.

According to the European Commission press release, the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund “aims to invest in equity and quasi-equity, including mezzanine and subordinated debt, in some 7 to 12 broadband projects each year from 2017 to 2021. The Fund’s investments will be of a size between €1 million and €30 million, for projects representing total costs of €150 million or less. Overall, the Fund is expected to unlock additional investments between €1 billion and €1.7 billion in broadband deployment in underserved areas, where very high-capacity networks are not deployed yet. The Fund aims to have invested in 20 countries by 2021.

The operational launch of the Fund will take place in mid-2017 and will be managed by Cube Infrastructure Managers S.A. through a public procurement process.

For more information, please visit the European Commission website:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-4351_en.htm