Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, yesterday called on Europe’s telecoms operators to help lobby for the release of funds totalling €9bn earmarked to support digital infrastructure projects including faster broadband roll-out.
Taking to the stage at the ETNO (European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association) conference in Brussels this week, Ms. Kroes asked the delegates: “Are we going to take our place as the connected, competitive continent? Or are we going to stay antiquated and analogue?”
Describing the infrastructure funds as “essential” to the continent’s economic future, she added: “We need to persuade MEPs and national governments of this case – and urgently”.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is intended to improve Europe’s transport, energy and digital networks, and would be facilitated by loans from the European Investment Bank, but still requires approval from the European Parliament and Council.
Ms. Kroes added that the funds could provide fast broadband connections to around 45 million households, telling European telcos’ top-brass: “I hope you will also help me make that case. Let’s face it – if you want to build consumer demand for higher bandwidth, and willingness to pay for it, then the bigger the footprint of enhanced networks, the better it is for you too.”