Operators back EU plan for broadband funding

Europe’s biggest telecoms operators have lent support to EU plans to invest in broadband infrastructure and urged political leaders to do the same.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s digital commissioner, has asked countries to back a plan to provide around €50 billion in funding from the EU Connecting Europe Facility for energy, transport and communications projects, where there is a need for substantial upfront spending.

Europe’s biggest telecoms operators have lent support to EU plans to invest in broadband infrastructure and urged political leaders to do the same.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s digital commissioner, has asked countries to back a plan to provide around €50 billion in funding from the EU Connecting Europe Facility for energy, transport and communications projects, where there is a need for substantial upfront spending.

In a statement from the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO), the telecoms companies said: “This financing programme is an important mechanism to support high-speed broadband roll-out in helping to mitigate investment risks.”

“At ETNO, we actively support and will strongly defend the EU’s proposed budget package, the structural funds for ICT and the Connecting Europe facility for telecoms and we will continue to promote investments in the regulatory policy framework to foster private investments in high-speed broadband,” the companies said.

Signatories to the statement include Didier Bellens, chief executive of Belgacom (Brussels, Belgium), René Obermann, chief executive of Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany), Eelco Blok, chief executive of KPN (The Hague, the Netherlands), Stéphane Richard, chairman and chief executive of France Telecom (Paris, France), Franco Bernabé, executive chairman and chief executive of Telecom Italia (Rome, Italy), Carsten Schloter, chief executive of Swisscom (Worblaufen, Switzerland), César Alierta, chairman and chief executive of Telefónica (Madrid, Spain) and Hakam Kanafani, chief executive of Turk Telekom (Ankara, Turkey).

“Strong and decisive action is needed in these times of financial uncertainty and priority must be given to building the infrastructure that will underpin Europe’s future growth,” ETNO said.