The FINANCIAL — The European Investment Bank (EIB) is advancing a EUR 150m framework loan for improved access to broadband services in the rural area to Wirtschafts- und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WIBank).
The funds will be used to expand passive broadband infrastructure in the Federal State of Hesse in order to provide fixed high-speed broadband services to households and businesses that are still not connected to the fibre-optic network. The promoters and owners of the passive infrastructure, which is to be developed with the aid of several projects, are the administrative districts (Landkreise), according to EIB.
At the signing of the framework contract, EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer said, “The Federal State of Hesse has been steadily forging ahead with the roll-out of high-speed networks for several years now. It is showcasing on a regional level what counts for the whole of Europe: if areas wish to remain competitive, they must invest in particular in network infrastructure in order to be able to transfer large volumes of data reliably and rapidly. This development of high-performance networks is one of the EIB’s main objectives. We are therefore particularly pleased to be able to finance such projects with our long-standing partner WIBank.”
Gottfried Milde, CEO of WIBank, stressed, “For WIBank, the roll-out of broadband services in rural areas is a critical building block in ensuring and consolidating the sustainability of these regions. An economic hub such as Hesse, facing both national and international competition, cannot afford to leave any potential untapped.” Milde pointed out that the promotion of high-speed internet combines “the strategic objectives for the development of the regional economy and infrastructure with the economic challenges. We welcome the opportunity to enter into a strategic alliance with the EIB in this sector for our common benefit.”
The European Investment Bank is supporting the expansion of high-speed internet in the context of the high-level “Europe 2020” strategy to promote smart growth and develop a knowledge and innovation-based economy. A key element is the “Digital Agenda for Europe” initiative, under which efficient high-speed networks are intended to ensure the reliable and rapid transfer of constantly growing data volumes. Outside Europe’s major urban centres, however, there is still a considerable need to achieve universal access to high-speed broadband networks.