The European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting the expansion of the Swedish fibre network in cities and rural areas with EUR 125 million in debt financing over the next four years. The transaction with IP-Only, the country’s biggest independent network provider, was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). EFSI is the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, set up by the EIB Group and the European Commission to boost the competitiveness of the European economy.
EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb said: “I am excited about this project. Swedish households will enjoy faster access to the internet, and the Swedish economy as such will benefit. This is simply a great way to get your Skype and Spotify to work better.”
Fast internet is becoming ever more crucial in an increasingly digitized society. However, more than one-third of Swedish households lack access to fast fibre networks. In rural areas, three out of four households rely on out-dated technology or have no fixed access at all. The EIB’s support to IP-Only will provide over 400,000 households and companies with next-generation broadband internet connections. Additionally, IP-Only’s open network model allows clients to freely choose digital service providers and benefit from improved competition and lower costs.
The project will contribute to the Swedish Government’s broadband strategy, which aims to connect 95% of all households and businesses with a minimum of 100 Mbps to the internet by 2020. The EIB has provided attractive terms and has pushed for a sustainable financial structure allowing IP-Only to bring network access to a higher number of households than planned.
IP-Only’s CEO Henrik Ringmar said: “The Swedish Government’s new broadband strategy presented in December 2016 by Peter Eriksson, Minister for Digital Development, was a crucial step towards giving the entire country access to a digital infrastructure. IP-Only has high ambitions when it comes to contributing to the historical digitalization taking place right now. The support from EIB contributes decisively to IP-Only’s determined fibre roll out, from urban to rural areas. We have a responsibility to counteract digital exclusion – every citizen has the right to be a part of modern society.”
European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said: "The agreement signed today with IP-Only under the Juncker Plan is good news for Sweden just days after the first EU summit dedicated to Europe's common digital project. Europe needs fast internet to reap the benefits of the digital single market. This is true for citizens and companies alike, in all corners of Europe: rural or urban."
The European Commission and the EIB announce today their plans to launch a fund for broadband infrastructure – the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund. This fund, which will lead to an investment platform combining private and public commitments, is announced together with three National Promotional Banks and Institutions (NPBIs) that aim to participate in the initiative as anchor investors: KfW Bankengruppe from Germany, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti from Italy and Caisse des dépôts et consignations from France. The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund will invest in broadband network infrastructure across underserved areas of Europe.
To speed up the digital transition, we need to offer more innovative financing and technical assistance that will help African countries overcome the many problems holding back Internet access and new technologies. The European Investment Bank’s Rural Connectivity Toolkit provides clear guidance to help African countries design financially sound, sustainable and inclusive digital connectivity projects.
By 2020, 37% of European firms had still not adopted any advanced digital technology, compared with 27% in the United States. The slow adaptation of digital technologies threatens to impede European firms’ competitiveness in the long term, as digital firms tend to perform better than non-digital firms do. They invest more, are more innovative, have better management practices, grow faster and create higher-paying jobs. Digital firms are also more likely to invest in tackling the transition and physical risks of climate change. While EU firms are overall lagging behind US peers in adopting and creating new digital technologies, Europe excels in one area — the intersection of green/digital technologies.