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A study on investing in local and regional Gigabit broadband deployment: Opportunities and challenges for market investors in the EU

The study on investing in Gigabit connectivity results in several suggestions on how to encourage private investment in digital infrastructure to reach the connectivity targets.

Connectivity for the digital transformation

Private investment is key in reaching the 2030 Digital Decade connectivity targets. By 2030, the aim is to connect all EU households with Gigabit connectivity and all populated areas with 5G. Making high-speed, advanced connectivity widely available will also be the key resource in supporting the Digital Decade targets in digital skills, digital technology for businesses and the availability of key public services online.

In 2020, the EIB estimated a €250bn investment gap in the EU for deploying Gigabit and 5G in time to reach the mid-term targets for 2025. Private investment will therefore be essential to meet the 2030 targets, potentially leveraged by European and national public funding and financial instruments.

Encouraging investment in connectivity

The basis of the study is a series of interviews with investors, funds, banks, operators and regulators. The study aimed to understand the criteria investors use for assessing investment opportunities related to connectivity infrastructure projects. The interviews have shown that investors carefully assess investment opportunities to understand how safe they are in the long term, their potential financial returns and the possible associated risks.

It follows that in order to encourage private investment, public authorities should enhance the long-term visibility of investments and remove any deployment barriers. Public authorities should prioritise large-scale projects(by gathering several municipalities) and encourage investment in the riskiest area by helping project promoters to reduce the time to get the first revenues and by ensuring potential long-term use of projects.

More so, public authorities should provide technical support to municipalities to increase the number of projects in connectivity. They should provide training to investors and increasingly support small projects. They should develop custom support for rural areas, which may be less attractive to investors.

The study goes on to include a number of suggestions to develop better connections between project promoters and investors. In particular:

  • Inspire from the European Innovation Council to associate EU broadband investors.
  • An “EU Broadband Investment Advisory Committee” could gather all investor types to regularly share views on the EU broadband investment status.
  • Generate, at EU level, connections between project promoters and investors:
    • develop a specific Broadband investment portal as a main entry point for investors, project promoters and public authorities
    • set up an annual investor conference (within the Broadband Days), an opportunity to network, show cases, etc
    • develop investment-readiness trainings through the broadband competence offices
  • Develop regular networking events at national level

 

Find more information in the study.

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Study on Investing in Local and Regional Gigabit Networks
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