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Cable Europe reaction to Commission financing initiative for next generation access “Connecting Europe Facility”

Date

19 Oct 2011

Sections

InfoSociety

“There is a case for state aid funding to make sure that the Digital Agenda avoids a Digital Divide. But we have a warning about how to use public funds. Keep them out of our territories. Not because we are scared to compete with other players - on the contrary. But because it kills the will for private investment if the market figures that the state will just pour money in if you wait around long enough. That is not going to help Europe's Digital Agenda.

In the meantime, we're busy beavering away on our networks and getting on with investments. It's part of why we can say that we're already achieving Digital Agenda goals in Europe. Today, 50% of EU households are within the reach of cable broadband networks delivering speed levels between 10 and well over 100 Mbps. Or in other words, half of the digital agenda coverage target for 2020 will be delivered by cable in 2013.

Private investment is a key driver. Public investment, just like aid in the developing world, should go where the need is most urgent. Getting this right is a life or death scenario for Europe's ICT future. We'll be happy to see aid going where it's needed most in the other half, the white spaces  that are calling out for connectivity.”

Caroline Van Weede

Managing Director
Cable Europe

“We see good opportunities to work with EU Commissioner Kroes, to help kick start fibre investments in the ‘Other Half of Europe’, the part where no cable competition exists or can be expected. And that’s where a word of caution may be useful coming from a player in the market with experience in taking risks, and investing. There is a big gap in Europe when it comes to connectivity – the gap is made up of “white spaces” or areas where there is no viable commercial model to invest. Inclusive and for all EU citizens whether in urban or rural settings, the Digital Agenda rightly aims to connect all Europeans to the best communications infrastructure possible.

Where this new tax-payer’s money is used to subsidise the development of rural areas, we are very supportive, provided that cable gets its fair share. We too, keep building NGN networks in greenfield areas. But  where these public funds end up invested in areas where nascent players – new entrants – are already setting up shop or have planned new investments, the use of such funds could be hugely distorting.

If Europe is serious about spurring private investment with the limited funds it has available – which I strongly believe it is and has to be – we need to challenge each and every investment of public funds by simply questioning: Is this investment likely to have a perverse effect on a market which is just waking up thanks to private funds or is this investment the only chance of getting service up and running here?

It’s an important thing to get right. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish to question a positive announcement aiming to further the Digital Agenda in the toughest spots to reach, the ‘Other Half of Europe’. Let’s just make sure that the investments kick-start rather than stifle development where it is needed most.”

Manuel Kohnstamm
President

Cable Europe

__________

For further information contact:

Gregg Svingen

Director of Communications

Cable Europe/Cable Europe Labs

Avenue des Arts 41, 1040

Brussels, Belgium

T: +32 2 556 2102  GSM: +32 476 490 603

E: gregg.svingen@cable-europe.eu

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