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EU broadband budget annihilated
Saturday 09 February 2013 13:21:58 by Andrew Ferguson

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) that was to have provided funding to the 27 EU member states to help reach the Digital Agenda 2020 goals of every property in the EU having access to a 30 Mbps or faster connection by 2020 is now in disarray. The facility originally had a proposed €9 billion budget but the first austerity budget the EU has faced now sees the amount available slashed to €1 billion.

Many broadband campaigners had hopes that EU involvement might have broken the stranglehold of the traditional telecoms operators across Europe and helped to boost community and alt-net style solutions. Alas with the very limited funding now available it is all but a foregone conclusion that only small amounts will be handed out as either subsidy to existing commercial operators or one or two vanity projects in each EU member state. Neelie Kroes goes further suggesting on twitter than only funding for services like eProcurement eInvoicing will happen, with no broadband infrastructure investment at all.

"But this funding will have to be exclusively for digital services: because such a smaller sum does not leave room for investing in broadband networks. I regret that: because broadband is essential for a digital single market, the rails on which all tomorrow’s digital services will run; and this could have been an innovative and highly-market oriented way to deliver it, almost budget-neutral in the long run.

Nonetheless, we have all agreed on broadband targets for Europe, including fast broadband coverage for all by 2020. Those agreed objectives are now harder to reach, but we should stay focused on that goal. I will keep fighting, and I will support innovations that help roll out fast broadband underserved areas: the Connecting Europe Facility was an important tool to move towards that goal, but not the only one."

Blog of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission

This crippling of the broadband budget is part of the 3.3% reduction in the EU budget (a reduction of €32bn) and has been hailed as a victory by David Cameron. In theory the UK already has £300m of money earmarked for broadband between 2015-2017 which would come from the TV license, which was most likely going to be spent increasing speeds for those in parts of the UK that had only just met the 2 Mbps USC due by 2015.

The reason broadband may have lost out is that it was up against much more established lobbying groups and politicians in the UK may wholeheartedly believe the rhetoric that the UK will have the best broadband in Europe by 2015. There were warnings that the CEF monies were under threat back in October last year.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
We saw the writing on this particular wall at the DA conference last year didn't we? We saw the politicians sucked into the telco hype. In our final presentation we said that the future had no lobby group. We hoped we were wrong but it looks like we were right. Oh well, keep on JfDI and eventually newer politicians will come along who get IT.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Buy Telco shares, Sell consultancy shares :-)
Posted by ahockings over 4 years ago
Another good reason for Cameron to get us the hell out of there!
Posted by ian72 over 4 years ago
I guess that is a real political win. It is much easier to be the best in Europe if the rest of Europe have had their finding removed.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
How did telco hype remove funding, please explain.
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
It would be madness for the EU to keep spending the way they were, especially that all the funds come from the 27 EU countries, there may be a handful of countries which are not in or verging on recession.
It would be a typical hands over ear la-la-la approach reminscent of the last labour government that carried on spending what they didn't have.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Telco hype - am sure they would rather of had another round of subsidy, so don't see them pushing to get CEF ripped apart.

Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
Call me stingy or mean but I'm not sure why I should be contributing towards providing 30Mb broadband for Eastern Europe.

This is something each country should do in their own right with their own funds if they so desire.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 4 years ago
I suppose that is to much to hope that if the Government is now to pay less to the EU than otherwise they might have, they will increase the BDUK funding to make up for the EU shortfall.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
NOTE: The fall in funding does not affect BDUK projects, even though some have part EU funding, different budgets.

Eastern Europe is actually doing rather well for fast broadband the lack of 1st generation broadband infrastructure makes it easier to do FTTH/B
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Telco hype? Fastest broadband in Europe was Government hype, best check those facts
Posted by fibrebunny over 4 years ago
Budgets are often raided to pay for the budgetary bribes agreed in negotiation. So even without cuts there is no guarantee the full amount of funding would have been available. I don't we need pan-European intervention anyway. Domestic infrastructure should be at the national level.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
I think we'll be alright, with 4G on the horizon...landline ISP's should be terrified.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Perhaps they could reinstate the broadband budget by shaving a couple of % off the Common Agricultural Policy, just a suggestion.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
4G is a nice addition, not the future, landlines will be here for many many many years
Posted by Mikebear over 4 years ago
Broadband provision can almost be regarded as a "utility" like water,gas and electricity and should be charged according to the amount used.
How much would 10p per GB raise to improve broadband access and speeds?
Could the Treasury be made to keep it's fingers off the money?
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
10p per GB with no fixed charge would be a massive reduction in income from the current position, so that won't help :-)

A tax of 10p per GB would be about 20 million users * 30 GB * 10p = £60m pa, well below BDUK's pot of money.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

Maybe for those with FTTC/FTTP or near to the exchange...
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
According to Ofcom 65%+ of us have access to "superfast" broadband already, and growing fast at present. So that would be most of us!
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

I don't expect to see "superfast" in my area until at least 2020 (assuming no LTE).

65% may sound a lot but that includes a few major population centers like cities/big towns, the rollout goes much slower/ceases after those are done, even 80-90% still leaves most villages untouched.

Then you have LTE coming around soon which even with 1 bar of signal can provide 10Mbps+ with a reasonable ping compared to current ~2Mbps DSL lines.
Posted by ccxo over 4 years ago
Well most of the countries population is in urban areas and with Openreach winning most of the BDUK tenders it should reach the 80-90% household coverage.
Which will include most villages, likely to be only hamlets etc in the final 10%.
LTE is still a few years away yet from the multiple networks having full UK coverage, EE is still deploying in Urban areas.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
As one wag on El Reg suggested - perhaps sabotaging the EU roll-out is Cameron's cunning plan to ensure that we have the best broadband in the EU by 2015 :-/
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@otester: We have are one of the most urbanised populations in the world. Nearly everyone is within practical reach of a PCP with all that implies.

4G will be useful for people wandering around and help fill in a few not-spots but it'll never seriously compete with a fixed solution. It can't - not unless you have a mast every dozen metres.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
€9.2Billion in reality is not very much for the whole of Europe! Crudely worked out on 27 member states all with 'equal' demand' it equates to €340million per country - remarkably close to the £300million we have 'available'?? (subject to government change.......etc etc) for our 'Part II', so while it seems like 'bad news' I do not think it is that dramatic, even given that Nellie says the remaining €1billion cannot now be allocated to 'infrastructure'. So, come on Georgie boy, hand in pocket?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
While the sum per country was not that high, if added to the £300m already earmarked and similar council money and commercial investment again it was perhaps enough to make FTTH feasible rather than a pipedream.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
"similar council money and commercial investment" - perhaps somewhat optimistic? I am also unaware of what the '£300million' is 'earmarked for' if at all? Has anyone actually said? Remember it is at the whim of the next government too.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago

Money is coming from BBC license fee to contribute to cost of providing broadband
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Andrew - some reality needed here? The £300million was/is supposed to bring the 100% of the '2mb minimum' folk up to some unspecified (15mb/24mb??) speed. In no way will it go any distance towards a 100% 30mb target which must surely remain a reasonable aim for 2020? It is a veritable drop in the internet ocean.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
£300m UK + £300m EU, plus perhaps another £300m from councils + £300m from commercial partner is getting to be the sort of money that can have some serious impact.

So the question is what are the UK plans for post 2015? Some councils already have announced progress to 100% superfast is their goal post 2015, but no central guidance yet.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

That's great and all but until I get FTTC I won't be satisfied :)
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