The European Union will support Tele2 AB in the rollout of high-speed mobile internet in Sweden and the Netherlands with a EUR 125m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The loan will be guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, in which the EIB is the European Commission’s strategic partner.
Tele2 will use the loan to expand and increase the capacity of the 4G mobile networks in both countries. In Sweden, the plan intends to increase the geographical coverage of 4G, leading to near-complete coverage of the entire population by 2019. In the Netherlands, the project aims to increase outdoor coverage to nearly 100% by 2018 and to further increase indoor coverage in densely populated areas. Here, the promoter is moving from being a virtual operator with no network to the first pure 4G mobile operator in the country.
“The European Investment Bank fosters smart growth, and support for investments in connectivity is high on our agenda," said Jan Vapaavuori, EIB Vice-President. “The telecom market is a very competitive landscape so this type of investment will remain very important. One of the projected outcomes is more competition in the market, leading to lower consumer prices, very much in line with what the Bank wants to achieve; improving people’s lives through its investments. ”
Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, said: "High-speed broadband plays a crucial role in our work and home lives. The European Commission is committed to completing the Digital Single Market of Europe, and that includes rolling out 4G networks across the entire EU. I am pleased that the European Fund for Strategic Investments is guaranteeing such an important project with Tele2."
Lars Nordmark, CFO of Tele2 AB said: “Our Group Treasury team has arranged this new EUR 125m loan from the EIB to finance our investments into LTE/4G networks in both Sweden and in the Netherlands in the coming years, significantly expanding our coverage in our two largest markets.”
The operation should lead to increased competition in the telecom markets in the two countries. Through extensive LTE/4G coverage, the project will also contribute to reaching the targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe (30 Mbit/s for all by 2020) and subscribers with recent handsets could achieve speed levels beyond 100 Mbps right away.
This is the fourth EIB operation in Sweden falling under the Juncker Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, meaning that the loan from the EIB is guaranteed by funds from the EU budget, which allows the EIB to take on more innovative higher-risk projects.