Connecting Europe: funding for broadband networks must be accompanied by policies that ensure private investments in infrastructures.
Brussels – The Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 by the European Commission confirms the crucial importance of connecting infrastructures, and in particular high speed broadband networks, for Europe’s economy and society. However, the use public funding must be limited to remote areas, while forward looking policies need to be adopted to keep the sector investing in new broadband networks
“By increasing significantly the funding for high speed broadband networks and services, the Commission demonstrates that it considers the ICT sector as a driver for growth. Although public funding has a key role to play in those specific areas where commercial deployments are not viable, the Digital Agenda goals will only be achieved through massive private investment”, said Luigi Gambardella, ETNO Executive Board Chair.
Public funding will only help to complement large scale network deployment if appropriate regulatory conditions are developed for private investment. Private investments need a favourable and stable regulatory framework in order to give Europe very high speed broadband networks, whereas a rigid application of rules is not conducive to risky investments in next generation access networks. NGAs require a more targeted and proportionate regulatory approach which takes into account the risk involved, reflects the competitive realities and allows for more pricing flexibility.
“While making additional public funding available is an important step forward in order to bridge the digital divide, the Commission should send a strong signal to private investors by applying a more proportionate and stable regulatory approach and stimulating demand. Devoting public resources to the ICT sector in the absence of a clear pro-investment environment diminishes the effectiveness of the funding itself”, added Gambardella.