The EIB and the Iliad Group announce a EUR 200 million operation to finance the rollout of next generation fixed networks. The loan agreement was signed on Monday 27 August 2012 by Xavier Niel, Founder of the Iliad/Free Group, and EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive Curtaz, at the Iliad Group’s headquarters in Paris. This agreement follows on from a first EUR 150 million loan agreement signed by the EIB and the Iliad Group in 2010.

This loan will support Iliad’s drive to roll out its next generation networks throughout France: 65% of the funds will be earmarked for the deployment of fibre optic networks based on FTTH (Fibre to the Home) access technology. It will also enable the Iliad Group to extend the reach and capacity of its ADSL2+ network and promote unbundling. There will be a particular focus on less densely populated areas of the country under a cofinancing agreement signed with the incumbent operator in July 2011 designed to reach around 60 towns and villages.

EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive underlined the operation’s importance: “Innovation and support for advanced information technologies are one of the EIB’s top priorities. Our goal is to foster the development of a competitive European economy based on the knowledge triangle of education, research and innovation. We are therefore delighted by this partnership with Iliad, a key player in the digital revolution in France. The inhabitants of small towns and villages will benefit in particular from this operation.”

Xavier Niel, Founder of the Iliad/Free Group, added: “We welcome this partnership with the EIB, which will enable the Iliad Group to press ahead with the rollout of the digital fixed networks of tomorrow and strengthen its key position in France’s telecom’s sector”.

Providing ultra-fast Internet access to foster growth based on digital innovation is a top priority of the EU’s digital agenda. In 2011, the EIB invested some EUR 4 billion in this field within the European Union.