Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission has approved Austria’s planned aid for the expansion of its broadband infrastructure to the tune of 2 billion euro.
The aid will come from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RFF) and is intended to provide all of the country with networks with download and upload speeds of at least 100 Mbps, an EC statement noted.
The move is part of Austria’s digitalisation push and fits in with “the EU’s strategic objectives relating to the digital transition”, according to the Commission.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said the scheme “allows Austria to address its digital challenges” and provides broadband access to businesses and households, especially in rural areas.
The proposed measures would ensure “that competition is not unduly distorted”, she added, pointing out that the EU would partially fund the plan through the RFF.
The EC approved Austria’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, and the EU Council adopted it.
Austria’s plan includes providing direct grants until the end of 2026 and it will prioritise infrastructure projects “in areas where end users do not yet have broadband access at download speeds of at least 30 Mbps.”
The Commission stressed that the plan will stimulate the wholesale market and attract additional private investments in broadband infrastructure.
The aid will encourage private operators to build infrastructure in areas where such expansion was not profitable, the EC noted, and this would benefit citizens as well as the public and private sectors. Also, it would help correct social or regional inequalities, especially in rural areas, given the need to address a market failure in areas where infrastructure expansion is not profitable due to remoteness, inaccessibility or low population density.
“The networks supported under the scheme will at least double the download and upload speeds of the existing networks”, the EC declared, describing the approach as a move to ensure “that public interventions address market failure areas without causing undue risks of crowding out private investments.” Broadband connectivity, it said, “is of strategic importance for European growth and innovation in all sectors of the economy and for social and territorial cohesion.”